Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 6 June 2017
Page 16

Questions and Answers

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Sign Language

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreIf it’s OK, I want to ask a question regarding worship and those who have speaking disabilities (or something similar to that). When we (at our congregation) teach about not using mechanical instruments of music in worship to God, a brother usually brings up the fact that there are disabled people who may not be able to worship as we do. I believe he was talking about those who can’t sing VOCALLY (or some with similar disabilities), but still understand the need to worship. The brother says we shouldn’t leave them out, and I believe his point is that the disabled may understand the words sung in worship by other signals (which the average person may consider an addition or something unauthorized when he himself worships) besides VOCAL. Just want to see if you would comment on this. Thanks.

Obviously, Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 refer to the vocal music of singing (i.e., would not include other vocal sounds such as humming, whistling, etc.), which is comprised of audible words. The purpose, in part, is that by those audible words Christians in worship are “speaking to one another” (Ephesians 5:19) and “teaching and admonishing” (Colossians 3:16). Certainly, instrumental music is both an addition to what is authorized for worshipful music and it is incapable to “speaking” as well as “teaching and admonishing.”

No one of whom I am aware believes that God requires of anyone what he or she may be physically or mentally incapable of doing. For instance, when a person is sick and unable to attend a worship assembly, others might conclude that such a person is so-called “providentially hindered” and thereby excused for his or her absence. (I’m not sure that “providentially hindered” is an accurate label, but I concur with the sentiment.)

A person who is unable to speak, then, would be excused from singing audible words, which would result in “speaking to one another” and “teaching and admonishing.” However, the earnest desire to worship God in each of the five activities of worship depicted in the New Testament is commendable.

Sometimes in the first century through the present, more than one language group may be present in an assembly. In these instances when persons present do not know the language of the speaker, an interpreter is required (1 Corinthians 14). It was not and is not uncommon for more than one language group to be present in a worship assembly. For instance, there may be a deaf contingent in an assembly, which in order for those persons to understand the preaching, someone must use sign language. A deaf, mute person would naturally respond in kind through sign language if able to do that. Other people who are knowledgeable of sign language could see and receive the “teaching and admonishing” that others would receive audibly. Sign language does not change the nature of worshipful music in the assembly for those who are able to sing aloud.

In any case, whether audible or inaudible, whether vocal singing or sign language singing, “teaching one another” and “teaching and admonishing” results. That is not the case with instrumental music.


As far as I can see, your thoughts on resurrection do not teach that Christ is bringing back the spirits to be united with the former body and then “changed.” From 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and 1 Thessalonians 3:13, are not the “spirits from hades” brought back to be reunited with former bodies, which conquers death, the last enemy of Christ. Possibly I missed this in one of your articles? Would be thankful for thoughts. Thank you.

I do not know to which article or articles the questioner refers. However, I’m certain that I have never exhausted all that could be said about any subject on which I have spoken or written. Simply not mentioning something or not addressing it as fully as an auditor might prefer does not imply an aversion to some aspect of biblical instruction.

The fullest single treatment in the Bible of the resurrection appears in 1 Corinthians 15. In particular, consider the following verses therein.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:50-55 NKJV)

Taught here is the resurrection of the physical body. Upon one’s resurrection, the physical body is to be transformed into a spiritual body, which is satisfactory for heavenly habitation. Mentioning “Hades,” where departed spirits await the time of the resurrection, indicates a reunion of the spirit and the body—now a transformed, immortal body. The word “mystery” in the quotation would have us to understand that there remain details about the resurrection of which the Father through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has not made us aware. Nevertheless, enough or sufficient details about the resurrection have been provided to humanity as God deemed appropriate (Deuteronomy 29:29).

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