Question:

Hello,

I am very confused regarding the church. I read articles and studies from different areas around the brotherhood and just can't wrap my mind around the division that we have. I know you have discussed the process of growing as a Christian and finding out if things we did were right or wrong. What is bothering me is all the different views that we have as the church. I came across a post regarding instrumental music. Basically, what's being said is that we believe differently, and should we not consider one a brother for that matter? Now I'm wondering what if I or the church as a whole is or isn't doing something right and how we are going to be judged. I cannot fully say I am enjoying the Christian life due to the many divisions between us. It is disheartening and almost makes me want to just quit.

My question is what's right in some cases? Yes, we are to study but what if we don't come to the understanding of what is meant by the scripture, or our understanding is different from another? It all has me scared of death and the judgment. I get some things are preference that we nit pick at but some things are not. How do we know the difference? This post talks about instrumental music, and if that's not allowed why is toe taping or an occasional pat on the leg when your singing?

The post is below. If you could give your take on how to rightly divide. This is a serious yet difficult matter for me as I never feel like I'm doing something good enough or right in the sight of God. The division among the church is part of the reason why I don't try to convert people to it because I myself don't always know what's right when it comes to these matters. I am almost to the point of giving up on the church.

"We have to stop taking beautiful verses like Ephesians 5:19 and using it merely as a proof text against instruments. Clearly not the context.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Ephesians 5:18-19). Paul said make melody or music with your heart. You can make music with instruments or make music with your mouth and not be making music in your heart. It’s similar to what Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Matthew 15:9). We need to be sure our whatever worship we present to God is from the heart and not just lip service or going through the motions.

"We’ve been taught to allow non-biblical issues like instrumental music to become a biblical issue and divide us. Satan wins! Check out Romans 14. You have my belief and I have my belief. We’re both believers. We’re both seeking to follow Jesus. Does it make us no longer brethren, if we disagree? The issue of instruments in “worship” wasa non-issue in God’s Word. God never said anything against sincere worship presented to him in singing or singing with instruments. Those verses like Ephesians 5:19, having nothing to do with instruments; which was my point last night. I can be singing acappella beautifully with malice, pride, selfishness, and grudges in my heart. “God didn’t authorize instruments” No scripture said that. Jesus didn’t say that. No apostle said that. Man came up with that. It’s been passed down from one generation to another. The restoration movement was meant to create unity in the Christian world, misguided individuals have allowed it to cause more division and legalism than anything. Jesus said, By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have one for another. People will know we belong to Jesus not based on how much we know, how nice our suits/dresses are, but our treatment of one another! This is not a comprehensive writing of my argument against condemning instruments, just wanted to say something real quick this morning."


Answer:

Since God does not teach different things to different people (I Corinthians 14:33), the conclusion must be that any divisions that exist in churches are due to one or more people teaching things contrary to God's teachings. If everyone was teaching the same thing as God, there would be no divisions. "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10).

However, this man is claiming that people can have different beliefs and be acceptable to God. How about if we let the apostle speak on the matter: "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10). There is no confusion here -- Paul makes himself very plain. Don't let a false teacher turn the tables on you and claim that by teaching what God said, that you are the cause of division.

Worse, you do not trust the words of Christ: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12). Of course false teachers don't want people proving they are not living according to God's word. So you are going to lay down your weapons and abandon God because you have opposition? And then you use that as an excuse not to obey Christ (Matthew 28:18-20)?

What is right is God. Period. "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21). The false teacher you cited claims that individuals do have private interpretations. Thus, he contradicts God. God is able to make Himself understood. "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). If we fail to understand God, it is our fault in not listening, not God's fault in telling us.

Preferences only occur when God gives us a choice. The command: "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19), tells us to sing. The false teacher admits it contains nothing about instruments in this verse. You might like "Precious Memories" and I might like "Angry Words." Those are preferences because God authorizes songs. Instruments are not a preference but an addition because God did not authorize instruments. He cites a verse about not adding human rules while doing so himself. Romans 14 only applies within the things God allows. "For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8). This is not permission to put words into God's mouth.

Silent toe tapping or tapping your leg is a way to help keep the rhythm of a song. It makes no sound and is not wrong.

God's silence is not permission. It must be respected. See: Biblical Authority and the "Silence" of the Scriptures: Does it Allow or Disallow? He shows no respect for God. He puts in his desires where God is silent.

Another false line of reasoning is to claim that if singing can be done wrongly, then instruments are allowed. Huh? This is a connection of two independent ideas. If singing is being done wrongly, then the proper conclusion is to start singing correctly, not add other things to the singing that doesn't improve its sincerity.

Thanks for your reply. I know we are at different knowledge levels. Not all matters are under Romans 14, which I understand. I just need to grow my faith and know when some matters can be disagreed upon (I.e. eating meat, holidays, etc) and which are commands. Trying to pre-judge how God will judge is my problem. I need to try my best as I grow. I'm sure there are things I don't know or do right, and that scares me.