Vol. 3, No. 6
Dear Mr. Rushmore: Can you tell me what bible verses I can share with homosexuals to let them know that they can be changed in Christ? People are born gay, just as we are all born in sin, so they should be loved and comforted and led to Christ, not despised as something inferior to heterosexuals. We are all God's children. I appreciate any help you can offer. Michael Lane, Florence, SC
It is a correct assessment of Scripture that homosexuality is sinful and therefore homosexuals need to be led by the Word of God to repent of their sins, including their homosexuality. It is also correct that homosexuals can change that behavior. By Divine inspiration, the apostle Paul listed homosexual behavior in the catalog of sins of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [homosexuals, NKJV], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [sodomites, NKJV], Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, KJV).
Happily, homosexual behavior can be changed. Some of the Corinthian Christians to whom the apostle wrote formerly were homosexuals. "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). Upon repentance, they received the forgiveness of their sins, including the sin of homosexuality. Repentance involves a corrective change of mind (internal activity) that brings about a corrective change of conduct or behavior (external activity). Anything less than a change of mind led by biblical instruction and a corresponding change of conduct (to bring it in harmony with the Divine instructions) is not biblical repentance. For a more thorough discussion of homosexuality, please see the Gospel Gazette Online Archives for "Homosexuality":
The assumptions that homosexuals are born that way and that everyone is also "born in sin" are both at odds with biblical truth. Several passages indicate the purity with which each child enters the world or remains prior to becoming accountable for his actions. Ezekiel 18:20 is one such verse: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." For a fuller treatment of original sin, heredity depravity and Calvinism, see Gospel Gazette Online Archives for "Calvinism":
Homosexuals are no more born into the sin of homosexuality than is anyone else born into sin. Homosexuality is a behavior that is either learned or a behavior against which one was not taught clearly at a young age or inclinations and lusts that one chooses to gratify rather than properly control.
"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15).
As humans, made in the spiritual image of God, we are neither robots nor animals, but beings that have the capacity and responsibility before God to control our behaviors. Any other concept takes a low view of God and an even lower view of mankind.
Indeed, we ought to hate sin and love sinners. Hence, we ought to hate homosexuality because God views it as sinful, but love the homosexual sinner because God loves all sinners (Romans 5:8) of which number you, all accountable souls and I are members from time to time. Yet, we must be careful not leave the impression that we approve of sinfulness, irrespective of whether the sin is homosexuality or something else. In the sense that sinfulness is an inferior condition to righteousness, one might, using your words, correctly note that 'homosexuality is inferior to heterosexuality.' Each of us ought to pursue righteousness, including homosexuals.
Regardless of what the sin might be, repenting and avoiding that sin in the future can be a very difficult, but do-able goal. We must start by ascertaining precisely what God through the Bible teaches regarding the sins of which we may be guilty. We must purpose to submit to the will of God and repent. It is comforting to know that we can persevere in the face of temptation. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Yes, "we are all God's children" by way of creation. However, we are either "children of the flesh" or "children of God" (Romans 9:8), but not both at the same time. It is imperative that we also become God's children by way of redemption, so that we can legitimately anticipate God's welcome into blissful eternity with him.
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27).
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
If no where in the New Testament their is no mentioning of the use of musical instruments, and many Churches of Christ do use instruments, how do they defend that? If the restoration movement Churches, copied the first church, and they didn't use any form of musical instruments, then at what time did the division come? Do you know, or can you defend with scripture that God would be unhappy with a simple Piano to accompany the people in their singing? King David played an instrument when he sang. Many of today's songs use the Psalms of David for their lyrics. I can find plenty of material from Churches of Christ who stand firm on the non use of musical instruments. I would like to find someone to defend the use of Pianos, Organs, Guitars, Tape Players, CD Players, and the like. What if the person using a form accompaniment is still making Melody in his heart to God? Maybe the people of the first Church would have used instruments to help them along if they would have been available. Any help will be appreciated. ~ Bill Suffel
Characteristically, the churches of Christ do not use mechanical instruments of music in their worship services. There is a very good reason for that, as we will see below. Any churches of Christ that do use instrumental music in their worship neither represent the norm among churches of Christ nor reflect the New Testament doctrine of what God prescribed for worshipful music. The Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ, both of which sometimes call an individual congregation by the appellation "Church of Christ," and which are not part of the churches of Christ, customarily use instrumental music in worship. The Christian Church and especially the Disciples of Christ also sport several other differences between themselves and the churches of Christ. Once, what are now the Christian Church, the Disciples of Christ and the churches of Christ were one fellowship, in the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. At that time, instrumental music was not employed in worship because there is no authorization for it in the New Testament for Christian worship. The addition of instrumental music and other departures, too, from New Testament teachings resulted in the rupture of fellowship, which was officially recognized by the U.S. Census of 1906.
The first crucial point to ascertain before one can know what God has authorized for us today is: "Under which God-given covenant do all people today now live?" The answer to this question decisively determines what God has authorized today, and consequently how mankind can conduct himself to obtain God's favor. Does God expect us to offer animal sacrifices as Abel or the Patriarchs and Jews did? Are we to build an ark as Noah did? Should we offer our sons as Abraham was commanded? Is the Passover meal for us? Or, are all men now living amenable exclusively to the New Testament?
The reason that Christian worship and service does not include animal sacrifices, burning incense, Jewish feast days, building an ark, etc. is because no one now living is obligated to either Patriarchal or Jewish covenants between God and mankind (i.e., the Old Testament). As a matter of fact, anyone attempting to abide by the former covenants is repulsive to God. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law [of Moses or Judaism]; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4). The Old Testament has been "nailed" to the cross of Christ (Colossians 2:14). We are "delivered" from the Law (Romans 7:6), including the Ten Commandments (Romans 7:7). The Old Law has been "done away" (2 Corinthians 3:6-11). The former covenant as been "abolished" (Ephesians 2:15). The "first covenant" has been replaced with the "second" or "better covenant," the New Testament (Hebrews 8:6-7).
Hence, 'what David did' or anyone else did living under former covenants, or even the specific laws that God legislated under former covenants, are immaterial today for the purpose of ascertaining how to conduct ourselves religiously in Christianity. Presently, we must turn to the New Testament rather than the Old Testament for authority in religion. Only the specific laws contained in former covenants that have been re-instituted in the New Testament (e.g., nine of the Ten Commandments, prohibitions against murder, idolatry, fornication, etc.) and strictly New Testament Divine teaching are obligatory or permissible in the Gospel Age. Additionally, principles (but not the specific laws) from the Old Testament are applicable today (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11); for instance, due to the unchangeable character of the Godhead (Hebrews 13:8) and from observance of interaction between God and mankind in the Old Testament account, we can know today how God will react to human disobedience and obedience.
Therefore, one today must turn to the New Testament exclusively to learn of Christianity. We must find the authority for what we do in religion presently from the New Testament alone. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Colossians 3:17); "in the name of" means by the authority of (e.g., open up in the name of the law). "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…" (1 Peter 4:11). The resurrected Christ claimed "all authority" in heaven and in earth (Matthew 20:18, ASV or NKJV), which authority he delegated to his apostles (Matthew 16:19; 18:18). The apostles to whom Jesus Christ delegated religious authority and other divinely inspired writers penned the New Testament, to which we appeal today for authority in religion.
Whatever, then, the New Testament authorizes in any and every aspect of religion (Christianity), and only what it authorizes, is obligatory and permissible. The New Testament authorizes through specific statements or commands, divinely sanctioned examples and divine inferences from which we are required to draw valid implications. These are the same fundamental means by which anyone communicates anything to another in the secular realm, too.
So, just what does the New Testament authorize for religious music? Every reference to worshipful music being practiced by Christians in the first century was singing alone. The two primary passages that specify the kind of music that God has authorized are: "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19) and "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).
Each worshipper is authorized by the New Testament teachings to which alone he is amenable to sing, period! If it were thought (erroneously) that the verses authorized playing an instrument, each worshipper would be authorized -- required -- to play, but not sing! If it were thought (erroneously) that the verses authorized singing and playing an instrument, each worshipper would be authorized -- required -- to sing and play, but not to sing without playing! The New Testament only authorizes singing as worshipful music under the Christian system.
Leviticus 10:1-2 teaches in principle that altering God-given worship instructions is presumptuous sin with serious and eternal consequences.
"And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD."
The phrase "which he commanded them not" equates to what God did not authorize. Nadab and Abihu apparently did not violate a stipulated prohibition, but decided to derive the fire for their censers from an unauthorized source, such as a campfire. To add instrumental music to Christian worship is presumptuous because it goes beyond what God has authorized in the New Testament.
Finally, it is a baseless assertion that the New Testament church did not use instruments of music in worship because they were not "available." The futile attempt to justify instrumental music in worship by an appeal to David using instruments in the Old Testament to worship, though it fails to prove New Testament authorization for instruments in Christian worship, admits that instruments of music were readily available for hundreds of years before the New Testament era. Actually, instruments of music had been available for thousands of years (Genesis 4:21) prior to the establishment of the church, yet neither did God through the Gospel authorize them, nor did the first century church adopt them for Christian worship.
Further, the synagogue, after the assembly of the church was patterned, did not use instrumental music either. "The worship of the Christian Church was afterwards modelled after that of the synagogue."1
SYNAGOGUE The earliest Christians were Jews. Therefore, church worship followed the synagogue pattern with Scripture reading, prayer, and a sermon.2
MUSIC, INSTRUMENTAL Instruments were not used in the worship of the ancient synagogue. They belonged to the tabernacle and the Temple, especially the latter; but were never in the congregational assemblies of God's people.3
"No one has ever denied that the use of mechanical instruments in worship was unknown to the New Testament age and that the first historical appearance of them in Christian worship came during the eighth century."4
Historically, no mechanical instruments of music were used in Christian worship until the seventh century, despite the fact of such instruments having been known and used throughout the whole world at the time of the beginning of Christianity and for centuries prior to that time. There is no refutation of the fact that the founder of Christianity, namely, the Christ and the blessed apostles simply left them out.5
Hence, biblically (from the New Testament) and historically, there is obviously neither divine sanction nor precedent in the first century for the adoption of instrumental music in Christian worship.
1 Easton, M. G., M. A. D. D., Easton's Bible Dictionary, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1996.
2 Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1986.
3 McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database (Seattle: Bible Soft) 2000.
4 Coffman, James Burton, Burton Coffman's Commentaries, NT on CDROM ed., (Abilene: ACU Press) 1999.
5 Coffman, "Colossians 3:16."
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