A fellow blogger says:
"My dear friends, if the use of instrumental music will send a Christ-follower to hell, then we're all going to hell. Over something. We're all wrong about something!!"
Through the years, I've noticed that when someone disagrees, one trick they use to try to make the opposition look bad is a statement about "going to hell." Judgment does not belong to us; it belongs to God. We are not in the place of God (Gen. 50:19), even when we deal with the guilty.
It is a smoke screen to pull out the "going-to-hell" complaint. One could just as easily apply this common complaint to any number of subjects. I remember hearing the same complaint from any number of people who objected to the Biblical teaching on the church, baptism, or various moral questions. Such statements are designed to make the person who is saying something is sinful to appear judgmental and thereby hypocritical.
Another complaint I've heard is the "Jesus didn't die over....." whine. Any time I hear that one, I know the person is stinging over the matter and has no other answer.
A more realistic understanding of the instrumental music issue or any issue is this: does such a belief, behavior, or practice violate an instruction of God? We must determine first whether something is a sin. If indeed the matter violates the instructions of God and is thereby sinful, then it can potentially be a salvation issue. Any sin can be a salvation issue.
That we are all imperfect, having imperfect knowledge and living imperfect lives, is not under question. What is under question is if ignorance is a license to self-made religion. Are we to assume that we can (because the water is presumably muddy) act on our own initiative? Do we really think that ignorance grants us the right to presume upon the grace of God?
Now I can perceive a novice or babe in Christ being judged less strictly. The disobedient who did not know the master's will will be beaten with few stripes rather than many. What of the church leaders who, departing from a unified view, presume to embrace out of a supposed uncertainty the right to self-made religion? Will not teachers incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1)? Will not leaders who grant permission to go beyond the instructions of Scripture be held accountable? Can people plead endlessly they lack certainty (all the while acting without evidence from the New Testament)? Do people never have to repent of self-made religion? Can they knowingly continue to practice their presumptuous ways?
Paul said, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
One must wonder if God's will is so hard to understand that a passage like Ephesians 5:15-17 is itself impractical and impossible. Do we believe we can obey it? "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." You'd think to hear some talk that we can't understand anything. To hear some talk, there is no such thing as damnable heresy. To hear some talk, we should never admonish the factious (a divisive heretic) man. To hear some talk, self-made religion is as salvific as the revealed will of God.
In the end, the "going-to-hell" argument is designed to hush up the Truth, to bully away anyone who reminds us of right and wrong. When people can't find evidence to support an unauthorized practice, they resort to complaint and fault-finding. The point of the complaint at the top of this post is to make it appear that anyone who thinks instrumental music is wrong is arrogant and judgmental. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is said, "we are all wrong about something." There is a difference between being mistaken through human weakness and in willfully driving a wedge in the body of Christ by pushing a divisive practice and making fun of anyone who disagrees.
Well, Phil, do you think you know everything or that you are always right? Of course not, I am a fallible sinner saved by the grace of God, dependent upon His mercy for salvation. I understand what it means to be saved, since I cannot save myself. But in all my weakness, I do not suppose that I can presume upon the grace and never need repentance.
The blood of Jesus can certainly cleanse those who walk in the light. Walking in the light is not sinlessness, because no one is capable of sinless perfection. But people can fool themselves, thinking they are in the light, when they are not (1 John 1:6). Sand theology does not yield the same results as rock theology (Matt. 7:21-27). Sand theology is when people build where they want rather than heed the words of Jesus. Self-made religion and innovations are sand theology. Those who plant their own plants will find themselves uprooted (Matt. 15:14). That's what Jesus says about it. That is how He feels about such things. I take that view because He has expressed His will in the matter.