Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 16, 1953
NUMBER 49, PAGE 8-9b

What Kind Of "Praise" Does God Desire?

Harold V. Trimble, San Antonio, Texas

Proverbs 28:9, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil." For thousands of years man has striven to praise the Almighty. Some of the praises God accepted, but obviously not all. Moses after delivering the children of Israel, asked: "Who is like unto thee, 0 Lord, among the gods: Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" Miriam said: "Sing ye to the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously." Hannah, with a heart overflowing, declared: "There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." David in great triumph over his enemies praised God as well as did Solomon when bringing God's ark into the temple. In ALL REFERENCES to praise in the NEW TESTAMENT we are commanded to sing, not to sing and play, but to SING! Surely, God being praiseworthy, He has the right to say how He shall be lauded and glorified.

"Whosoever goeth onward, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God." After the last supper the Lord, with his Disciples, SANG A SONG! At midnight, and in the Philippian jail, Paul and Silas SANG PRAISES! The Lord neither commanded, authorized, nor permitted the use of a mechanical instrument of music. The apostles did not practice the use of such, nor did the Holy Spirit guide them into such acts. With hearts that are filled to the overflowing with great measures of happiness, the churches of Christ, believing God's word, The Bible, is His final authority, dare not to "Go beyond the things that are written." That is why one will see no mechanical instruments in our auditorium. "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, THE FRUIT OF OUR LIPS giving thanks to his name." (Heb. 13:15) God here declares He shall be glorified and worshipped with "the fruit of the lips," and in Acts 17:24-25 emphatically denies that He can be eulogized or praised by man's hands! In Eph. 5:19 inspiration demands that the fruit of the lips be accompanied with the full of the heart: "Teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, SINGING, and making melody IN YOUR HEARTS to the Lord. Any instrument other than the lips and heart may be used upon no higher authority than man's!

For six hundred years blood-washed throngs gave God glory, extolled His goodness, mercies, and longsuffering in song, and found a natural expression of hearts that were filled with gratitude before a mechanical instrument was introduced to divide the disciples of Christ. Today there is dissention over its use. If a tree is known by its fruits, and it is, then the evil fruit produced by its projection into worship shall surely show it condemned as unacceptable to God. Great and good men among Biblical and historical scholars have given us the time when, and people among whom, mechanical music came into the church.

1. Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 1702: "In the Greek church the organ never came into use. But after the eighth century it became more and more common in the Latin church; not, however, without opposition from the side of the Monks."

2. New International Religious Encyclopedia: "The organ is said to have been first employed in the church during the time of Pope Vitalian I (666 A.D.)."

3. McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia speaking of sacred music says: "Which in the Eastern church has never been any other than vocal, instrumental music being unknown in that church, as it was in the primitive church."

4. Martin Luther called "the organ an ensign of Baal," McClintock and Strong, Vol. VI, p. 762.

5. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, said: "I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither seen nor heard." Clarke's Commentary, Vol. IV, p. 686.

6. Adam Clarke, great Methodist commentator declared: "Music as a science I esteem and admire; but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor. This is the abuse of music, and here I register my protest against all such corruptions in the worship of the Author of Christianity?' (Ibid)

7. Charles H. Spurgeon, recognized by many as the most outstanding Baptist preacher of the age, and who preached to thousands in the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle in London, England, would allow no mechanical music to be used.

8. John Calvin, early reformer and leader of Presbyterianism, said: "Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, the restoration of the other shadows of the law . . ." Calvin's Commentary on Psalm 33.

Churches of Christ do not oppose mechanical instruments in praise because these people did, but they do oppose them FOR THE SAME REASON!

Many try to justify its use and use as authority David. As the colored preacher once said: "Don't grab David, for David grabbed Uriah's wife!" Shall we use David's Authority? Then may we have animal sacrifice instead of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God: Incense instead of the prayers of the Saints: and even practice polygamy with the Lord's blessings! When the Father said: "Hear ye Him" He referred to Christ and not David. Shall we hear Him then indeed on the subject of Praise? Yea, "The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him."

Sometimes it is urged that we may have these instruments in the church for they will have them in Heaven. Appeal is then made to Rev. 14:1-4, "And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion and with him an hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a VOICE from heaven, as the VOICE of many waters, and as the VOICE of great thunder: and I heard the VOICE of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throng..." John heard a VOICE! They SUNG A SONG! The VOICE was AS, or comparable to, MANY WATERS, (rhythm), GREAT THUNDER (volume), and HARPERS (melody). We haven't a hundred and forty four thousand to sing, but if heaven is filled with such pure praises, with such rhythm, volume, and melody, then we plead for all peoples to lay down the inventions of men and use with all their power the God-given instruments of lips and hearts to the praise of God's glory forever. "0 Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!"

The object of singing is to PLEASE GOD. In song we express joy and cheerfulness. "Is any merry among you? Let him sing psalms." (James 5:13) We put into expression our inward self. " . . .in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee," (Heb. 2:12) "Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord," (Col. 3:16) and "Making melody in your hearts to the Lord." Do you not see, gentle listener, a heart that is thus filled with grace and melody is but overflowing in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs its praise to Him who is worthy of honor and wisdom and majesty and power and glory and thanksgiving in heaven and earth? And above all it is keeping the commandments of Him whose commandments are righteous!

"When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way. While we do His good will, He abides with us still and with all who will trust and obey." "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." (1 Cor. 14:15) If one could pray with a mechanical instrument, then might he use that in praise and song, but until that time we are to sing with the same thing that we pray with, and that is the spirit and understanding. A spiritual feast, in which you may participate, is awaiting you each Lord's day at the churches of Christ where we strive diligently to render acceptable praise to our Lord, and God's Son, Jesus, the Christ, in song.