Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 18 Number 6 June 2016
Page 16

Questions and Answers

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Mechanical Instrumental Music
in Worship? Grasping for Straws!

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis Rushmore…how you would respond to one who says that mechanical instruments can have meaning according to 1 Corinthians 14:7-8? This passage was used by one who was responding to a brother who said that mechanical instruments don’t have meaning (the implication really was that mechanical instruments can’t teach or express a message according to what’s required in Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16). …Also, …commenting on whether a mechanical instrument, which conveyed a certain sound (whether rhythmic or not) that all understood as conveying the message of Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16, whether this would be an argument a person could use for justifying mechanical instruments of music in worship.

First Corinthians 14:7-8 reads, “Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (NKJV). The context in which these two verses appear addresses the necessity of teaching and preaching using words that can be understood by their auditors, rather than speaking in “tongues” or “languages” (Acts 2:5-11) that are unfamiliar to an audience. The references to instruments of music, that they make different sounds and that they could signal such things as “Charge!” or “Retreat!” are an illustration to teach that comprehension of divine instruction is necessary. Put as charitably as possible, lifting this illustration from its intended purpose by proponents of instrumental music in Christian worship is grasping at proverbial straws in their determined opposition to the clear teaching of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.

Notice these two passages. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). “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. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:16-17).

Bear with me while I use an illustration. When driving my car, if I turn on my right turning signal, flashing lights on the exterior of my vehicle convey a message. The message expressed to all around me who may observe my automobile is that it is about to turn right. However, my turning signal, though it conveys a message, is incapable of “speaking” to anyone about the grandeur of heaven, the holiness of God or the Divine scheme for human redemption. Furthermore, my turning signal is not “singing,” and it is powerless for “teaching” or “admonishing” about prophecy and fulfillment, Christian living, and Christian service. My turning signal is extremely limited in what message it can relate to others in the vicinity of my car. Likewise, instruments of music fail in all of these areas: unable to speak, to sing, to teach and to admonish – unable to pass divine instruction along about any of the myriads of biblical subjects contained in God’s Word. Neither my turning signal nor instruments of music are able to express the details of God-given religion. That job is the exclusive responsibility of words.

Did Christ’s Blood Atone for Sins?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

I studied that the word “atonement” as found in Lev. 17:11, and specifically the original Hebrew word (Strong’s #3722) found there is defined as (1) to cover, (2) to conceal or (3) to hide. That makes sense as the blood of animals ONLY concealed, hid or covered the sins of the people UNTIL Christ could come. Then through His blood were their sins “actually removed” as found in Heb. 9:15?

My question, then, is “Why do writers so often speak of Christ’s atoning blood?” I have often wondered, based upon the specific meaning of the word “atonement.” Christ’s blood “did not atone” in the sense of just covering or hiding; rather His blood REMOVED COMPLETELY our sins, did it not? Christ’s blood did not ATONE as the word meaning covers as far as I understand; it actually REMOVED, did it not? I would like your thoughts. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME, YOUR EFFORTS, SO GREAT OF A WEBSITE. I ENCOURAGE SO MANY TO GO “HERE” IF THEY HAVE QUESTIONS. ~ Jack Phillips

The Hebrew word for “atonement” that appears in Leviticus 17:11 means “to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively, to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel” (Strong). It is variously translated throughout the KJV Old Testament as “appease, make (an atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, purge (away), put off, (make) reconcile (-liation)” (Strong).

Regarding the summary of teaching in both testaments of the Bible, it is true that absolute forgiveness of sin was not generally available to mankind prior to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross (Romans 3:25). For instance, under Judaism, there was an annual remembrance of sins (Hebrews 10:1-4). A principle distinction throughout the Book of Hebrews is the relatively inferior Law (Judaism) and lawgiver (Moses) versus the superior New Testament and its Lawgiver, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2; 3:1-6; 8:7-13).

However, the KJV does apply the word “atonement” in Romans 5:11 to the saving activity of our Lord Jesus Christ: “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” There, the Greek word translated “atonement” means, “‎exchange (figuratively, adjustment), i.e. restoration to (the divine) favor” (Strong). Elsewhere in the KJV, the same Greek word appears as “reconciling” (Romans 11:15) and “reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). The majority of translations consulted (e.g., NKJV, ASV, NIV, YLT, Wuest, ESV, NASV, RSV, Douay-Rheims, NET, NRSV, WEB), especially those that are more nearly translations and less like commentaries, employ the word “reconciliation” in Romans 5:11 instead of “atonement.”

Nevertheless, there is similarity between atonement under Judaism and atonement or reconciliation under Christianity. Under Judaism, God chose not to remember the sins of His faithful children annually year by year. Under Christianity, though, God chooses not to remember the sins of His faithful children permanently, rather than merely one year at a time. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12 NKJV). “Then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’” (Hebrews 10:17). There is similarity in God’s activity respecting not remembering sins, but there exists a contrast in the duration of God not remembering sins of His faithful children between the Old Testament and the New Testament eras.

The reason, of course, that God no longer remembers the sins of His faithful children under Christianity is that through the superior sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sins are forgiven (1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:24; Revelation 1:5; 5:9). The obedient are saved (Hebrews 5:8-9) whereas those disobedient to the plan of salvation contained within the Gospel or the New Testament remain lost (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). Salvation occurs because sins have been forgiven, or in other words, because sinners have been pardoned. Immediately following Hebrews 10:17 where it is stated that God does not remember the child of God’s sins anymore, the penman of the Hebrew epistle recorded, “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18). God doesn’t remember the Christian’s sins because he has been pardoned. He has been redeemed or bought back by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14).

Works Cited

Strong, John. Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.

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