God Does Not Owe Us a List of Everything He Does Not Want

Where did God say that using mechanical instruments in New Testament worship is forbidden? If God did not say, “Thou shalt not use mechanical instruments in New Testament worship,” are they automatically authorized? Friends, God has never owed man a list of all the things He does not want (as will be shown). To be faithful to Him, we simply need to know what He does want, and give Him exactly that. We must not presume that something other than what He specified is acceptable to Him, as many people in Bible times learned the hard way by being punished or even killed (Gen. 4; Lev. 10; 2 Sam. 6, etc.).

It’s worth noting that God did specify mechanical instruments in Old Testament tabernacle/temple worship (2 Chr. 29:25), but NEW Testament worship is NEW and different (Jn. 4:20-24). Now Christians are the temple, and the music is made within us (Eph. 2:21; 5:19). Also, just because something was approved by God in the past, that does not mean it is acceptable today (Ex. 17:6; Num. 20:7-12). Every New Testament act of worship is different than similar Old Testament counterparts, and there is no more authority for mechanical instruments than for burning incense in worship, lighting lamps, sacrificing animals, or other Old Testament shadows of what was to come (Heb. 8:5; 9:23, 24; 10:1).

If God had not specified what kind of music He wanted in New Testament worship, that would be different, but every verse governing music in NT worship specifies singing (Mt. 26:30; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb 2:12, etc.). Throughout time, when God specified what He wanted, man had no authority to go beyond what God specified. For example,

  • God specified gopher wood for Noah’s ark (Gen. 6:14). When God specified gopher wood, was it necessary for God to list all the other kinds of wood that Noah was NOT to use? For Noah to understand what God wanted, was it necessary for God to say, “Thou shalt not use cedar. Thou shalt not use oak. Thou shalt not use pine,” etc.? There are reportedly over 100,000 kinds of trees in the world, so the original command would have multiplied from seven words into a monstrous text, twice the size of the New Testament Scriptures! Can you imagine how large the Bible would be if, with every command, God had to list everything unacceptable? Also, could Noah have used cedar along with gopher wood, arguing that God did not say NOT to use cedar? Surely the reader can see how that would have been disobedience, which is sin (1 Jn. 3:4).
  • God specified Moriah as the place to offer Isaac (Gen. 22:2). When God specified where Abraham was to offer Isaac, was it necessary for God to list all the other places in the world NOT to offer Isaac?  Could Abraham have done this at a different location and say, “But God, you did not say NOT to offer Isaac here”? If Abraham had done things like that, he would not have been mentioned later as a man of obedient faith!
  • God specified the 14th day of the first Jewish month for the Passover (Ex. 12:18). When God specified that date, was it necessary for God to tell them all the other days in the year the Passover was NOT to be observed?
  • The Lord specified unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine in communion (Matt. 26:26-29). When the Lord specified these, was it necessary for Him to list all the other kinds of food in the world that are not authorized? Would it be sinful to add steak to the Lord’s table and say, “Well, the Lord did not say NOT to use steak”? Dear reader, if you can see how faulty that reasoning would be, please avoid using that same faulty reasoning regarding the kind of music God specified!
  • God specified singing as the music He desires in New Testament worship (references listed above). Was it necessary for God to specify all the other kinds of music in the world that are unauthorized? Of course, it was not. Music God desires today requires “speaking,” “making melody in your hearts,” “letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” “teaching,” and “admonishing” (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Mechanical instruments meet none of those criteria.
  • What if an earthly father specifies milk? Today if a father sends his son into the store to buy milk, must he list every item in the store his son is NOT to buy? Can the son take his dad’s money into that store and buy an expensive video game along with the milk, if the father only specified milk? If the father then gets angry, can the son legitimately argue that it was OK, because his father did not tell him NOT to buy a video game? Friends, is it really that difficult to grasp this concept of not going beyond what an authority figure authorizes? If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic, may the pharmacist dispense morphine, since the doctor did not explicitly forbid morphine?

More examples could be given, but if all these examples seem silly, it’s because the idea that God owes man a list of everything that He does NOT want is silly. When God specifies what He wants, man must offer exactly what God specified—nothing more, nothing less, and no substitutions. That holds true, whether it is the Lord’s Supper, music, or any other matter in which God specifies what He wants.

Friends, if God had wanted mechanical instruments in New Testament worship, He would have told us. He has always specified what He wanted in worship, from the beginning of time until today (Gen. 4). Without Him telling us to use mechanical instruments in NT worship, there is no authority (Col. 3:17), but He DID repeatedly command all Christians to sing.

You may also be interested in: 15 Reasons Not to Use Mechanical Instruments in Worship

Note: This article was inspired by an online post by Paul Mays.

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