New Location

Posted: June 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Php 1:21).

A bank in Binghamton, New York, had some flowers sent to a competitor who had recently moved into a new building. There was a mix-up at the flower shop, and the card sent with the arrangement read, “With our deepest sympathy.”

The florist, who was greatly embarrassed, apologized. But he was even more embarrassed when he realized that the card intended for the bank was attached to a floral arrangement sent to a funeral home in honor of a deceased person. That card read, “Congratulations on your new location!”

A sentiment like that is appropriate for Christians, because they move to a wonderful new location when they die. They go to be with Christ, and the sorrows and heartaches of this earthly existence are past forever. Near the end of his life, Paul said that to be with Christ is “far better” than to remain on earth (Php 1: 23).

What comfort this brings to those who are left behind! Yes, separation is painful, but as Christians we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Rather, we can rejoice, even with tear-filled eyes, because our loved ones have taken up a new residence in heaven.

To every believer who dies, therefore, it would be appropriate to say, “Congratulations on your new location!”

“Someday my earthly house will fall
I cannot tell how soon ‘twill be;
But this I know my All in All
Has now a place in heaven for me”
(Crosby)

 -Author Unknown

 


Evangelism Pep Talk – May 2016

Posted: June 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Motivation

“…prove yourself to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Php 2:15-16).

How do we shine our lights as Christians?  First, we must make a clear break between ourselves and the dark world in which we live.  There must be a clear contrast in our character.  We must be above reproach and unstained by the perversity going on around us.  God calls us to “come out from their midst and be separate” and not to be “bound together with unbelievers” (2 Cor 6:14-18).

This contrast in our character must not be a source of self-righteousness, however.  The only reason we have attained to righteousness is because God “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13).  Our salvation is the “gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” (Eph 2:8-10).  And as God’s masterpiece, we bring glory and praise to Him, not ourselves.  Men must see our good works and be drawn to glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matt 5:16).

So when we shine the light of good works, how will men’s attention be directed towards God?  They may see our love,  generosity, kindness, and humility, but these characteristics alone will not turn their focus to the Lord.  They must know the source of this transformed character if they are to give God the glory.

Shining our lights is not just about good works, it is about good news.  We must “hold forth the word of life” (ASV, Php 2:16).  We must shine the light of the gospel and tell others what the Lord has done in our lives.  God’s word is the true source of light in our lives (Ps 119:105) and we cannot effectively shine forth without it.  Only when we have told others about God’s grace through Jesus will our good works be a testament to His glory.

Information

This past month was a fairly average month from an evangelistic standpoint. While no new contacts were made of which I am aware, we continue to work with many contacts we have made in the past.

We had 6 return visitors to our meetup studies this month. Our online membership has now increased to 88 members, making us the largest Bible study meetup in the St. Louis area. This coming month L. A. will  continue his study through Acts in chapter 16 on June 6th. I will be leading a study over Genesis 32-33 on June 9th. Scott Bale just finished teaching his study on 2 Timothy and has not yet decided what to move on to next. If you would like to get more involved in evangelistic efforts, attending one of these studies could be a good place to start.

I am also continuing to teach 3-4 personal studies each week. The majority of these are focused on encouraging the weak or helping new converts grow. While I hope to continue making new evangelistic contacts, ultimately our goal in teaching is to help souls get to heaven and that means that our efforts don’t stop when someone comes out of the baptistery. Helping Christians grow in their relationship with the Lord is a form of evangelism that we should make sure we don’t neglect.

I know that I am far from the only one active in evangelistic studies though. I know of at least 3 other members at Kirkwood who are having regular personal studies with their friends or neighbors. It would not surprise me if there were many more of which I am unaware. It is always encouraging to me to hear about my brethren zealously reaching out to those around them with the gospel.

I would encourage more members to get involved teaching their friends and neighbors. If you don’t feel capable of leading a study like this, feel free to ask for help. Evangelists, pastors, and teachers are intended to equip you for the Lord’s work (Eph 4:11-12) and we are eager to do so in any way we are able. Stay salty, stay bright, and keep sowing the seed!

-Grady

 


Sell Your Goods

Posted: June 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

One of the sobering truths in Biblical revelation is that God knows the very secrets of our hearts. And so does Jesus, His Son. Of our Creator Paul writes, “God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ” (Rom 2:16). And of Jesus Paul writes, “Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God” (1 Cor 4:5).

Jesus, our final judge, knows what is in man, the apostle John tells us (John 2:25). The Pharisees found this out on a number of occasions when they were merely “reasoning in their hearts” and Jesus would understand in His spirit what they were thinking and to their dismay respond. On one occasion Jesus, “perceiving in His spirit” that they questioned His authority to forgive sins, forgave a palsied man of his sins, healed him, and then explained that the miraculous healing of the man proved His right to forgive sins (see Mark 2:5-12).

This omniscience explains a conversation that Jesus had with a rich ruler who questioned Jesus about what “good thing” he could do to have eternal life. Jesus talked with him about obedience and his need to keep the commandments of God. After asking Jesus to specify what commandments he must keep, Jesus listed some of the most basic commandments given to Israel by Moses. When the man explained that he had been brought up by godly parents and had always kept these commandments, he then ask: “What lack I yet?”

Jesus’ answer to the rich man would surely qualify as one of those “hard sayings” our Lord’s listeners referred to on another occasion (see John 6:60). Jesus responded to the rich man with the following order: “If thou would be perfect, go, sell that which thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Matt 19:21).

It is clear that this is not an order that Jesus imposed upon all rich men generally. Why, then, did He demand it of this rich ruler? That Jesus can look into men’s hearts and know their thinking and mindset helps students of scripture understand why this command of the Lord is given to a specific individual. Jesus knew this man thoroughly, as He does all men, and saw that his wealth was a hindrance to discipleship and service in God’s kingdom.

The rich ruler’s one opportunity of serving God and joining Jesus and the disciples in the work of announcing the coming kingdom was to dispose of his riches—the very thing that stood between him and heaven. That the man rejected any hope of heaven and went away full of sorrow in disappointment are evidence that Jesus knew his heart and had read it accurately.

The point of this story for men today is that every person must honestly examine his own heart to admit to himself what Jesus who sits at God’s right hand sees in His search of men’s hearts (see Rev 2:23). If Jesus called each one of us into His presence today, what would He tell us to sell? Would it be our TV, our golf clubs, our bowling balls, our guitars or other instruments, our season tickets for entertainment, our credit cards, our treadmills, our fishing rods, our hunting guns, our boats, our novels, our radial arm saws and routers—you get the idea?

Brethren, I make no pretense of knowing your mind, but I can tell you exactly what Jesus would tell each one of us to sell—anything that stands between us and faithful service in His kingdom. The only issue that anyone of us faces, brethren, is whether we can be honest with ourselves about this matter. Going to heaven depends on it!

-L. A.

 


Creative Tension vs. Emotional Tension

Posted: May 23rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13)

In regard to our spiritual growth, there is a gap between where we are and where we want to be. As we reach for the “stature of the fullness of Christ,” we’re conscious that the discrepancy between our present condition and the goal that we seek is not acceptable. Yet how we choose to think about this discrepancy is one of the main factors that determine our spiritual lives. Depending on whether we think of the difference as a problem to be worried about or as an opportunity to be embraced, there will be a corresponding impact on our spiritual growth.

Peter Senge, in his book The Fifth Discipline, makes the important distinction between “creative tension” and “emotional tension.” When we have an idea in our minds about what we would like our reality to be but we recognize that our current reality is far below this ideal, the result is “tension.” But tension is not always bad. The anxiety-filled “emotional tension” that we often feel is not the only response that a human being can make when he or she realizes that there is work to be done. We can respond instead with decisiveness, energy, and enthusiasm. This kind of tension is a positive stimulus that urges us in the direction of good work, and this is what Senge calls “creative tension.”

When it comes to spiritual growth, we tend to swing between the extremes of worry and complacency. Either we obsess about our shortcomings in an unhealthy, self-pitying manner or we just forget about the whole thing and accept ourselves as we are. It seems as if we’re determined to be either neurotic or lethargic! But there is a third way, and that is the way of growth, the way of improvement. Yes, we need to feel our hurts deeply. “In this [body] we groan” (2 Cor 5:2). But no, we should not worry about our imperfections in a destructive way. Making progress toward perfection is what the spiritual life is about. If we’re growing, we’re reaching forward and narrowing the gap.

“The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy. If there was no gap, there would be no need for any action to move toward the vision. Indeed, the gap is the source of creative energy. We call this gap creative tension” (Peter M. Senge).

 -Gary Henry

 


The Tragedy of Gossip

Posted: May 23rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

You never treat your brother worse than when you gossip about him. Though it was many years ago that God instructed Israel, “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people,” it is nevertheless still good advice. More than that the New Testament teaches Christians to refrain from this practice (Rom 1:29-30; 1 Tim 5:13). Yet, in far too many places today brethren are estranged and distant from one another because of “wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings” (2 Cor 12:20). My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

At the root of gossip there is always pride or jealousy or hatred. Some people gossip to gain attention; it makes them feel important. Others are just plain mean and they do it to intentionally hurt others. David said, “All that hate me whisper together against me; against me do they devise my hurt” (Psa 41:7). The wise man said, “He that hideth hatred is of lying lips; and he that uttereth slander is a fool” (Prov 10:18).

Any fool ends up hurting himself. So it is with the gossiping fool. Though he may do an untold amount of harm to other people, the fruit of his activity is perhaps best observed in his life.

First, He makes himself miserable. “The north wind bringeth forth rain; so doth a backbiting tongue an angry countenance” (Prov 25:23). The gossip has a bitter, sour disposition. And why shouldn’t he? He is spewing out venom all the time. It is hard to be joyful and at peace with oneself when one is sullen, resentful and rabidly spreading lies.

Secondly, He cuts himself off from others. God says, “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets; therefore company not with him that openeth wide his lips” (Prov 20:19). And who would want to? Have you ever been around a person who had nothing good to say about others and you wondered what they say about you when you weren’t around? Would you like to tell that person something in confidence? No, “A perverse man scattereth abroad strife; and a whisperer separateth chief friends” (Prov 16:28).

Thirdly, He separates himself from God. “Jehovah, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart; he that slandereth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his friend, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor” Psa 15:1-3.

To her shame the church has often neglected to discipline the gossiper. When gossip is heard by church leaders it should be traced to its source, and if the gossiper does not repent and stop, he should be severed from the fellowship of the saints. God says, “For lack of wood the fire goeth out; and where there is no whisperer, contention ceaseth. As coals are to hot embers, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to inflame strife. The words of a whisperer are as dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts” (Prov 26:20-22).

Let each disciple determine that he will not only refuse to gossip, but he will refuse to listen to one who does. Great good will come to the Lord’s cause by such determination on the part of every saint. Our actions as disciples either build up or tear down the kingdom. Which is it with you?

-Brent Lewis

 


Daily Correction

Posted: May 23rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

All drivers are aware that staying in the proper lane, on the right side of the road, and out of the ditches calls for a series of constant corrections. Every few seconds automobiles, if left to themselves, veer to the right or to the left of a straight path. The role of a good driver is to continually adjust the steering. Otherwise disaster awaits.

This is equally true of Christians who want to go to heaven when they die. Each of them is seeking to travel a narrow road that leads to life and to avoid the broad way that leads to the destruction of eternal damnation. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus exhorts and warns: “Enter you in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leads unto life and few are they that find it” (Matt 7:13-14). To keep themselves on the narrow way that leads to life in heaven, Christians must daily make correction, and this demands of them several things.

Study the Map. First, it is important that they keep themselves informed of the way they are to travel. In doing this they are constantly aware of every turn they must make along the road. The map of truth—the word of God—if studied daily, will “through the knowledge of Him that called [them]” keep disciples informed of “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3-4). In this way they avoid ignorance and lack of information that is essential to their pilgrim’s journey through a world of material and lascivious attractions that lure them off of the course their Lord has set before them.

Examine The Location. Secondly, it is necessary for God’s sojourners to regularly examine themselves to see where they are on the road of life. “Examine yourselves,” Paul demands, to determine “whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor 13:5). “Am I still on the road of life?” is an ongoing question the Lord’s disciples must ask themselves. In this way they recognize when they have deviated from the way. It is so easy to see the careless driving of others and to ignore one’s own faults. A study of the scriptures must always include a critique of one’s own life. In James’ words, travelers must see themselves as they who look into a mirror and honestly observe their need for change (James 1:25). According to Jesus, only an “honest and good heart” is open to see and is amenable to change and correction (Luke 8:15).

Make Corrections. Finally, few drivers of even minimal travel experience have flawlessly avoided wrong turns and deviations from the directions of the map. And certainly no Christian has followed the straitened path of righteousness without need for correction. Only a hardheaded imbecile will continue to follow a wrong course when he learns that he has left the right way. On those occasions a person has to turn around, go back to the proper road, and start anew.

Christians are called to do this when they transgress. They must “repent of their sins,” “confess” the error of their way, and “pray” to God for forgiveness (see Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:8-10). Once they are back on the right road they can rejoice in the peaceful knowledge of truth that they are back on track, that they have returned to the right course—and that they will by these daily correction arrive at God’s planned and promised destination for His people.

All Christians sin, brethren. And if any one of us denies this, he has not only deceived himself but has made God a liar (1 John 1:8, 10). The only way any Christian can stay on the road of life is to keep his hands on the steering wheel, be awake and aware daily of the need for corrections, and adjust the course of his conduct as the road to life dictates.

-L. A.

 


Sin: Its Meaning

Posted: May 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

The Greek word for sin, harmartia, means literally “to miss the mark.” Sin is defined by the Bible as either acting without the authority of law or transgressing or violating the law. Either way of defining sin implies a “goal” or “standard” of behavior that is violated by human conduct. A goal or standard for human behavior suggests the existence of someone who has the right and authority to determine how man should and must act. Historically, the only person to demonstrate the right to this authority is Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus claimed the right to this authority and proved it by supernatural signs. These miraculous powers demonstrate that He is above and over the natural world, including mankind. Jesus walked on water, instantaneously healed diseases and bodily deformities, and raised both men and women from the dead to display His claim to be “God in the flesh” (see John 1:1, 14; 20:30-31).

The existence and reality of God, Jesus’ Father, is also displayed by the supernatural handiwork and design of the created universe and the wonderfully designed bodies of both man and animals (see Psa 19:1; Psa 139). This is further demonstrated in a Book, the Bible, which bears the marks of foreknowledge and superhuman understanding displayed in literally scores of prophetic utterances that declare future events before they occurred (see 2 Pet 1:19-21; Isa 46:8-10).

The existence of God as Creator and Redeemer of man is the foundation for law. God who made man in His image and likeness and determined to save him through the sacrifice of His Son has the right and authority to demand whatever behavior He chooses. He may, for example, insist that only a “male” and a “female” may be joined in marriage and that homosexuality is sinful; that any human being who unites his body with another human being outside marriage is defiled by fornication and adultery; that one human being has no right to murder a fellow human; that no man is permitted to steal what belongs to another person; that sons and daughters must honor their fathers and mothers; that the human creature may only worship Jehovah, the God who created him; etc. (see Exod 20:1-17; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Heb 13:4).

The God who designed marriage likewise has the authority to decide how the relationship of husband and wife must be conducted; which of them is to be the head of the relationship and which must submit; how a husband must treat his wife and how a wife must relate to her husband; what the role of the parents is when children enter the family and how children are to treat their parents. He may even determine that the marriage must last until the relationship and bond is severed by death (Eph 5:22-33; Eph 6:1-4; Rom 7:1-3).

The Creator may likewise determine that the creature must assemble with others to worship Him, and what these worshippers may or may not do in that worship (Heb 10:24-25; 1 Cor 11:17-34; 1 Cor 14:1-39). He has the authority to forgive their sins when they violate His law, and to determine what they must do to receive that forgiveness (Acts 2:38). He is God their Creator and has the right to insist that they not delete any of His instructions to them, and that they not add words or teaching to what He has spoken (Deut 4:2).

Sin, brethren and mankind in general, is evil, wrong, ungodly, unrighteous, iniquity, error; it is any violation of God’s law that misses the mark or target He has set before man in life under the sun. Since the wages of sin is eternal punishment in the outer darkness of hell (see Rom 6:23; Rev 21:8), the conclusion of the matter, in the words of Solomon, is to “fear God and keep His commandments” and not “go beyond the things which are written” (Eccl 12:13; 1 Cor 4:6; 2 John 9).

-L. A.

 


Some Things I Want To Teach My Children

Posted: May 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). In keeping with the instructions of this passage, there are certain things that I want to teach my children.

1. I want to teach my children proper reverence and respect in the worship periods of the church. When we meet for worship, we are present before God to worship God. Cornelius understood this as he said, “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:33). Many people surely have given little thought to this matter. Women talk to each other in the nursery. Young people laugh and talk in the assembly. Children march in an unnecessary parade to the restrooms. Healthy men and women who can be so eager and enthusiastic at an antique auction or a ball game or a school program drag in at the worship periods, flop down listlessly into the pew, and sleep throughout the sermon.

Surely these people fail to realize that we are present before God to worship God. I hope to teach my children that they are to reverence God, that they are to sit quietly throughout the worship period, that they are to bow their heads in prayer, that they are to participate in the singing, and that they are to avoid creating any unnecessary disturbance during worship.

2. I want to teach my children to seek first the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [material things of life] shall be added to you” (Matt 6:33). I want my children to know that their growing up to be faithful Christians means more to me than anything else relative to them. Should they excel in sports, make top grades in school, earn Ph.D. degrees, win beauty contest, and live in luxury all their days, but fail to be faithful Christians, and consequently go to hell when they die, I will have failed as a parent.

If my boy wants to play Little League baseball, we must have a talk with his coach before we commit ourselves, and explain to the coach that if a conflict arises between my boy’s spiritual activities and his baseball activities, his spiritual activities must come first. Then we must abide by that understanding consistently, whatever pressures may arise to do otherwise. The same principle must apply in school activities, social activities, boy scouts, girl scouts, etc. Further, I hope to bring my children as they grow into maturity to make these decisions on their own. Too many young people hide behind their parents with the convenient “Mother won’t let me,” instead of standing for their convictions and fighting unashamedly for the Lord. My goal is not to make them seek first the kingdom, but to bring them to want to seek first the kingdom that they might be pleasing to God.

3. I want to teach my children respect for authority: for parental authority (Eph 6:1), for governmental authority (Matt 22:21), and above all else, for divine authority (Acts 5:29). A child is to be pitied who is not taught respect for authority when he is very small. He becomes a problem in the Bible class, in school, in the community. Later in life he is a problem on the job; he gets into trouble with the law; and finally he is lost eternally, not having respected God’s authority.

There are many things other than these which I hope to teach my children. Space does not permit a discussion of strength of character, honesty, fairness, good manners, etc., all of which I hope to teach my children.

Let no one think of this article as a boast of what I shall do; it is the setting forth of goals. No one is more conscious of the possibility of failure than am I. But my wife and I pray regularly that God will help us to bring up our children well, and that He will overrule our mistakes. Meanwhile, we try to set a good example before them; we teach them by word of mouth, seeking to abide by those instructions which God gave to Israel: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut 6:6-7); and we try to do this consistently. And if some day we do see our children grow up to be faithful to the Lord, we know that it will be by the grace of God, and we shall give Him the glory.

-Bill Hall

 


What The Prodigal’s Father Did NOT Do

Posted: May 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

There are many things to learn from the famous parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Each of the three characters in the parable – the prodigal, the father, and the elder brother – provides us with essential instruction in spiritual matters. Few Biblical texts have served as the basis for more powerful sermons and lessons. Our emphasis here is on the father, and specifically on some of the things he did NOT do. Consider:

1. He did not try to justify his son’s sinful actions. Many parents make this critical mistake. Even when their children have done horrible, devastating wrongs, some parents will make excuses for them. Some have even been known to change their position on basic moral issues if it so happens that their son or daughter has followed that sinful route. This, of course, only makes things worse.

2. He did not continue a normal relationship with his erring son. The reality was that their relationship had been severely altered, not by the father’s choices, but rather by the son’s. The father accepted this reality, as unpleasant as it was. There was nothing ‘normal’ in the family as long as this son continued in his sinful ways.

3. He did not rush to bail his son out of the trouble he had gotten himself into, and he did not enable him to continue in his sinful lifestyle. Although it’s not stated in the text, it’s not hard to imagine that the father likely knew where his son was – may well have known about the horrid conditions his son was suffering in the pig pen. But, he did not go there. He did not send some much needed cash to ease the suffering. He did not take any steps to lessen the miserable consequences the boy had reaped by his bad choices. Unfortunately, we see way too many parents these days that, by their actions, actually make it possible for the children to continue in open rebellion to the will of God.

4. He did not forgive and restore his prodigal son until the son repented and sought his forgiveness. It’s clear that he was willing to forgive. It’s obvious that he was anxious to forgive. He made it easy for his wayward son to seek and receive forgiveness. But notice carefully that he did not forgive the prodigal until the young man “came to himself”, humbly returned, and asked for reconciliation. This is the pattern taught throughout the Scriptures, and we must follow it.

5. He never gave up hope for his lost son. As the son was nearing home, “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” It has been noted that the father must have been constantly watching and always hoping that he would see his son on the horizon. No loving parent can give up hope for a child gone astray.

The father of the prodigal son serves as a great role model for us today. Of course, we believe he is a sort of ‘shadow’ of our perfect Heavenly Father. Let us strive to be more like Him.

 -Greg Gwin

 


Further Considerations (regarding instrumental music)

Posted: May 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

This past Sunday we addressed  the issue of using instrumental music in worship. Here at Kirkwood, we endeavor to use our voices and hearts to praise the Lord, no more and no less. This is not being nitpicky or legalistic, but simply striving to give God the type of worship that He ordered from us under the New Covenant (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). The church is not a democracy in which we can vote to worship in whatever way that the members deem best. It is a monarchy in which everything we teach and practice must be according to the authority of the King (Col 3:17).

Furthermore, we must understand that this need for divine authority does not only apply within the four walls of the church building. As Christians, our entire lives fall under the jurisdiction of Christ. We are citizens of His kingdom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our every word and deed must be governed by the moral truths of God’s word, if we wish to be pleasing in His sight.

Thus, in discussing instrumental music, we must recognize that we are not just talking about a “church” issue, but a “worship” issue. Keeping mechanical instruments out of our church building is not the exclusive concern here, but keeping them out of any offering of worship to the Lord. Regardless of the location, we are not authorized to sing psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs unto the Lord in this way. Our “sacrifice of praise” must be “the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15).

Therefore, the type of worship God has ordered applies when we are singing in small groups, in the privacy of our home, while listening to the radio, or while performing on a stage. Just because we are not sitting in the pews at church does not mean that God’s will regarding worship has changed. If what we are singing falls under the category of psalm, hymn, or spiritual song, we must not add ingredients to it that God didn’t order within His word.

It may be argued that the purpose of such songs in contexts outside the assembly can be different. For example, when spiritual songs are performed, their primary purpose ceases to be worship and becomes entertainment. Thus, instruments can be used in this case as freely as they can with any secular song.

The only problem with this argument is that it concedes that God’s name is being used in vain (Ex 20:7). To sing a song addressed to God with no thought to what we’re actually saying, but merely as a performance to showcase our own talents and please the ears of men is an insult to His holiness. If it is worship, let us give it to God in the way He commands. If it is not worship, let us refuse to vainly sing lyrics that could classify it as such.

-Grady