“Instruments are used for the express purpose of making the service attractive, and the praise offering is often rendered for the worshippers by those whose lips and hearts have never been touched by the love of God. When the worship is thus rendered by machinery, God is robbed of that heart service and spiritual communion which each worshipper should have with Him in the ordinances of grace.”

“Another peculiarity of the Reformed Presbyterian Church is that no instruments of music are used in divine worship. They believe that instruments were used in the tabernacle and temple worship by the Levites, and at the time of the offering up of sacrifices by the priests. As these services were wholly typical and were done away with at the coming of Christ, so also all the accompaniments and material supports of that service. At the advent of Christ the building was completed. and the scaffolding was taken down. Christ and the Apostles never used an instrument of music in the synagogue worship, although they used the Psalms. If instruments had been necessary to acceptable worship, the example or direction of Christ in this matter would have been given. Christ requires a spiritual service—the melody of the heart with the fruit of the lips. The leading writers and fathers of the Church give instruments no place in the worship. They were introduced by Pope Vitalian, in A. D., 660, to “augment the eclat of religious ceremonies.” Being of Romish origin, all true Protestants should look upon the innovation with suspicion.

The true principle of Christian worship is “What has the Lord required,” and not what He has not forbidden. All Presbyterians recognize the Westminister standards, and the Confession of Faith says we are to “sing Psalms with grace in the heart,” and “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and is so limited by His own revealed will that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men.” It is an admitted fact that instruments and operatic choirs destroy congregational singing, and substitute a meaningless service for that which every heart should render unto God. Instruments are used for the express purpose of making the service attractive, and the praise offering is often rendered for the worshippers by those whose lips and hearts have never been touched by the love of God. When the worship is thus rendered by machinery, God is robbed of that heart service and spiritual communion which each worshipper should have with Him in the ordinances of grace.”

From The History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America by William Melancthon  Glasgow, p59.

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5 responses to ““Instruments are used for the express purpose of making the service attractive, and the praise offering is often rendered for the worshippers by those whose lips and hearts have never been touched by the love of God. When the worship is thus rendered by machinery, God is robbed of that heart service and spiritual communion which each worshipper should have with Him in the ordinances of grace.”

  1. Dear Rev. Koller, I thought I would attach a pamphlet that my pastor wrote on “Why Not Instrumental Music in Worship” by Brad Freeman.   Maybe this would be something for the website.  

    May the Lord continue to bless you in your endeavors.

    Blessings, Shad

    ________________________________

  2. Shad,

    Thanks so much, I look forward to reading it. Can you provide a link?

  3. It does seem odd that hymns and spiritual songs, as expressed in Col. 3:16 are considered off limits, and that you sing Psalms which command the use of instruments, yet you forbid the use of the very instruments that the Psalms commend. We know that all scripture is God-breathed and is useful…and I do not see where God reversed his stand on instrumentation. Could it not be considered a “given” that instrumentation is part of worship? There was a very practical reason for keeping worship volume low during Nero’s time and shortly after, so it is understandable that Christians would not use instruments, and afterwards they might not think of it. However, it seems wrong to forbid it just because the instruction to use instruments is not reiterated by Jesus. I see in photos of your sanctuaries that it appears you teach in a position other than that in which Christ taught, that is, he was seated when he taught in the synagogue (except in John 7 where he shocked them all by standing and shouting), yet I see a pulpit in many of your churches. Is it possible that our God is pleased with a heart that yearns for him, even if we get a coup0le of details wrong? After all, the gospel is not about us getting it right – it is about how Jesus got it right, then paid for our wrongs. We should strive to obey, but should also watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees, which gets into us all too easily.

    If your desire and conviction is that you not use instruments and that you use psalmnody exclusively, I will not condemn it. I am firmly convinced that evry one of us will be amazed when we see Jesus and understand all at how wrong we were on so many issues. We will also be amazed at just how loved we were in the midst of our deepest failures.

    blessings on you all,
    DW

  4. DW,

    I know that many people are surprised to hear that there are Christians who sing only the Psalms and who do not use instruments in worship. In fact, this position has been around for a very long time in the Christian church.

    If this is an area that interests you, I might point you on to the “Articles” page. There are a number of writings there that will answer your questions in great detail. There are many common misunderstandings surrounding the singing of Psalms only in worship.

    First, the “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” mentioned in Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 are common titles to the Old Testament Psalms. When Paul mentions them, they perfectly correspond to the Greek titles of the Psalms in the Septuagint. There were no hymnals or hymn writers in his day, the reader would have simply connected the words to the titles of the Psalms. To go from “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (all inspired by God) to the works of Fanny Crosby and Charles Wesley is quite a leap of logic.

    The Regulative Principle of Worship says that we can only do what God commands in worship, and nothing else. We have no command to write new songs or sing anything other than what God has given us. The Word of God is sufficient for our worship and praise.

    Second, it is common to notice how the Psalms mention musical instruments, yet many Psalm singers will not allow the use of instruments. It seems like an obvious contradiction. Here again, there are many articles mentioned on this website and others that would be more thorough. Basically, the musical instruments used in the Old Testament are associated with the sacrificial system. They were used during those events that have passed away. Since we no longer have this kind of sacrificial system, we no longer have the warrant for instruments in worship. The Psalms, however, were used in a variety of setting, so they still continue on in our day. So, instruments are not done away with because they are not “reiterated by Jesus”, but rather because Jesus did away with them in worship because he did away with the ceremonial system of sacrificing animals.

    You are right to say that the gospel is “not about us getting it right”. I appreciate that statement very much. I would encourage you to consider that the way we worship is a reflection of our obedience to God’s commands. We are not given permission by God to worship him in any way that we desire. There are biblical limitations upon our worship. We cannot introduce things into our worship that are foreign to Scripture. Can you think of any examples of foreign worship that were displeasing to God? At the same time we have a number of commands in Scripture that we are not to add to the commands of God.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith is also quite clear in summarizing our belief concerning the limitations upon our worship:

    “But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.”

  5. Pingback: Driscoll on the Regulative Principle + some questions

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