The Forum

The Forum


Dear brother in Christ,

I’ve read Food for the Flock with great interest. I have a problem which I hope and pray someone there may be able to write a sermon on; it is a doctrinal subject.

From time to time, the question is raised as to whether or not music is permitted to be played in an assembly.

Some in the assembly say it is not doctrinal, and others that it is against God’s word, although I personally do not see it that way.

Can you please answer this question for us? It means a great deal to us all.

Thanking you, Yours in His service,
M. C.

Dear brother C.

In reply to your letter regarding instrumental music in assembly halls, we would like to say that this subject cannot scripturally be placed in the category of doctrine. Whatever our differences may be on this question, it has nothing whatever to do with sound or unsound teaching.

It may help us all in our decision relative to this matter, if we learn to distinguish between principles laid down in the Word of God, and methods of practice. There are divine principles laid down in the Holy Scriptures for the regulation of the collective gatherings of the saints. These are found particularly in Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 11-14. By these Scriptures, we are taught that the source of all gift is in the Father, its authority is in the Son, and its effectiveness is through the Holy Spirit. Moreover, in these chapters we are taught that the spirit in which gift is to be exercised is humility, the measure of each gift is faith, and its adornment is love.

From these divine principles, we may discern the features of the New Testament Church. These are, broadly speaking, an equality of brotherhood that is undivided by clergy or laity; the universal priesthood of all believers; the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit of God, dividing to every man severally as He wills, and flowing through them all to the glory of God; the liberty for the exercise of all God-given gift; the maintenance of Scriptural discipline and order as becometh the holiness of God’s House.

God has given definite legislation for principles; He has given none for methods. Principles never change and are binding upon all the Lord’s people in every age; methods may and do change. God has left no legislation for the building of Gospel Halls, the use of hymn books, the order of our gospel meetings, the formation of a Sunday School, etc. These are methods which we adopt to carry out divine principles in our testimony before the world. That which is to govern us in the use of methods is: Does it maintain the dignity of God’s assembly? Does it transgress on divine principles? We should shun the use of any method that is not in keeping with the dignity and principles of God’s dwelling place.

There are some assemblies that have adopted methods which, in our judgment, have lowered that dignity. This is grieving to the Spirit of God, as well as to the spiritual among the saints. Whatever our differences may be in the matter of methods, we should never allow them to become so great as to divide the people of God. The grace of God should have room to work among us. An unbending will in matters for which there is no “Thus saith the Lord” is a danger to the unity of God’s assembly.

Sincerely in Christ,
R. McC.