"There Will Be Instrumental Music In Heaven!"
The June 2010 edition of Truth Magazine focused on Instrumental Music In Worship. I was asked to write an article dealing with the argument "There will be instrumental music in Heaven." Below is a re-print of that article.
Evidently, there are those who maintain that there is instrumental music in heaven and, therefore, they are justified to have such in the church. This position is not supported on the pages of the Bible. It is the purpose of this article to set forth some problems with that teaching to the intent that the truth, as it always does, might shine forth to those who desire to know it. Notice the following problems with such a position:
It Assumes A Literal Interpretation
When one studies the Book of Revelation, it must be remembered the book was set forth in signs and symbols for the benefit of those who were to receive it. The first verse in the book bears this out: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John" (Rev. 1:1). The ideology that because instruments are mentioned as being in heaven, they are permitted in the services of the church makes the assumption the instruments mentioned in the Revelation are literal. Notice however, that many times in the Book of Revelation, things are described as something else. For example, Revelation 1:10 says: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet." When John heard the voice in Revelation 4:1, he compared it with a trumpet. Notice Revelation 14:2,3: "And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth" (ASV). Take note of the word "as". John did not hear thunder, waters, or harps but rather the voice he heard is described as those things. John was permitted to see things in the spiritual realm, and that needs to be remembered, if one is going to obtain a correct interpretation. We must not make the mistake so many have in assuming a literal interpretation when one does not fit.
It Ignores Plain Bible Teaching
To advance the teaching of instrumental music in the church is to ignore what the New Testament teaches. God has prescribed how we are to worship Him. Jesus said, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24). To worship God in spirit is to do so with the right attitude and frame of mind. Jesus identified what truth is for us. He said, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). Therefore, to worship God in truth means to do as He has instructed. When we consider music in the church, we better be concerned about doing as truth has revealed. In the New Testament, you will only find vocal as the type of music authorized (Eph. 5:19).
It Misses The Mark
The notion: "There are instruments in heaven, so bring them into the church", simply misses the mark. Regardless of what takes place in the sweet realm of heaven does not change what has been legislated by the Lord to take place in the church. This argument really has at its core a disregard for the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Pt. 1:3) and the authority of Christ (Mt. 28:18,19). Remember that God has spoken in the last days by Jesus, His Son (Heb. 1:1). What has been revealed to the writers of the Bible and penned are the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37), and we are charged to keep those things without addition or subtraction (Rev. 22:18,19). May we purpose that we will serve the Lord with a pure heart and on His terms.
- Donnie Oliver