By Marlin Kilpatrick
In a recent church bulletin, the elders of the Heritage church of Christ (Fort Worth, Texas) made a Special Announcement under the title of Whatever It Takes. The Heritage elders announced that, beginning in the fall 2013, Heritage’s evening services will include instrumental music. The Sunday morning services will remain a cappella. The late brother J. D. Tant, gospel preacher, was known for his saying, “Brethren, we are drifting.” If he were still living he would say, “Brethren, we have drifted.” Fellow Christians, the Lord’s church is in deep spiritual trouble.
In the announcement it was claimed, “…all the elders were in agreement that “scripture does not prohibit the use of instruments in our worship.” On many issues it is good that all the elders be in agreement, but on this issue it matters not one whit that the elders are in agreement. While the elders may be “in agreement,” they are in disagreement with the Lord and his word. In the avenue of worshiping God in song, the scriptures are very specific: only singing is authorized. The use of instrumental music in Christian worship introduces another kind of music, which the scriptures do not authorize. In public debate with denominational preachers, faithful gospel preachers have met this issue time and again, and not once have denominational preachers been able to falsify this claim. Brethren, are we going to just throw away what we know the scriptures teach and become just another denominational church among many?
In their Special Announcement, the elders claimed “that the addition of instrumental worship service would be beneficial to our quest to reach the lost.” Here is where their “Whatever it Takes” enters the picture. Supposedly, if it takes instrumental music in worship to reach the lost, then the use of instrumental music is what we should do. But, the use of that which is sinful in worship will not save the lost. Where is the benefit in filling the auditorium with lost souls, even if they do enjoy the music? The only power to save the lost is the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16), but to pervert the gospel by using instrumental music in worship is in direct violation of Paul’s words (cf. Gal. 1:6-9), and renders the gospel powerless.
In the aforementioned rationale, where does such “reasoning” stop. If we use instruments of music in addition to our singing, in an effort not to offend the lost, when it comes to the question of music, then what will we do when the lost object (most already do) to baptism for the remission of sins? What will we do when someone objects to immersion in water, and insists on being sprinkled, instead? On what scriptural basis could we refuse to turn the Lord’s Supper into a common meal and remember the Lord’s death on Saturday night, if we use the rationale used by Heritage’s elders? Brethren, we are opening the flood gates, and when we do the Lord will hold us accountable. Such action as that taken by Heritage’s elders is a rejection of the need for scriptural authority for all that we do (cf. Col. 3:17). Correctly ascertaining scriptural authority on this issue will settle the matter.
In their Special Announcement, the Heritage elders said, “…we have spent a great deal of time studying the issue and praying for God to reveal his will as to what we should do.” The spending of “a great deal of time studying the issue” is commendable, but praying “for God to reveal his will as to what we should do,” is a waste of time. God has already revealed his will, and it is his will which we should obey. If we do, we will sing praises to him without instruments of music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). The New Testament is God’s final revelation to man. He will not reveal anything that is contradictory to his already revealed will. So waiting for God to reveal what we should do, when he has already revealed what he desires in worship, is useless.
Hopefully, the Heritage elders will see their mistake and repent. If this does not happen, it then becomes an issue of fellowship. We cannot fellowship error and please our Lord. Think about it.