Friday, April 04, 2008

Because what we believe matters

I was recently upbraided by a poster for wasting my time on what in his mind was an irrelevant issue (instrumental music in Christian worship). First of all, I really don't live there. Within the last week I have written articles and television transcripts dealing with the apocrypha, sin, the church, and the holiness of God. I am now teaching a class on prayer. I have counseled several people this week, dealing with their personal issues, baptized a person, taught courses in Greek, church growth, the passion of the Christ, a Survey of the Bible, Christian Evidences, and "once saved, always saved." I also have spoken recently with missionaries and helped raised funds for starving Kenyans. My life and work is quite diverse. I recently authored an audio CD on marriage and am preparing one on parenting for Focus Press.

Why do I take a little time on IM? First, because it is sinful, self-made religion, as addictive as idolatry to some. Second, because it is splitting the church and separating people I love from fellowship. Third, because there is so much false information and foolish arguments being made today that need correcting. Fourth, because IM takes the focus off of God and puts it onto performers.

The IM issue is really reflective of a much larger problem. I recently got a post supporting using candles and incense in worship. The IM question is really an authority issue. What will we regard as the authority for our lives? How will we understand the silence of the Scriptures? Since I have researched and written extensively on these matters for years, I wanted to share what I know about these matters to answer the falsehoods and fuzzy thinking some are promoting today.

There is a slippery slope. Some of those who went with the instrument over a century ago have found no stopping place. In 1989 in Cincinnati, some in the same group voted on some key issues. They could not say that Jesus is the only way to heaven, that the Bible is the final authority, or that homosexuality is a sin. In that same meeting they actually encouraged women to consider abortion. When you open the door to self-made religion, people will invent their own faith and forget God. IM is indeed the first step to godlessness.

So that's why.



Steve Higginbotham said...

Hi Phil. Thanks for your article, and helping people to have a better perspective. On a number of occasions I have received the same criticism.

Not long ago, at a preacher's meeting, one preacher suggested that our meeting was out of balance because we discussed "IM" in one of the sessions. However, the facts were that this was only the second time it was a topic for discussion in over two years worth of meetings.

Reality, and proper perspective often knock the props out from under the best accusations.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for you articles. Thank you for your stand for the truth! God bless your efforts.
Tommy Tidwell

Matthew said...

I think, or I believe seems to be very important to many people. As what we believe has influence on what we do. Those who state that what we believe does not matter, certainly think what they believe on that issue is important. Good work.

AncientWanderer said...

Keep on trucking!

AncientWanderer said...

Keep on trucking!

Paula Harrington said...

For those who allow instrumental music, what will they allow next? The Bible doesn't say not to do many things so where do they draw the line?

Dell said...

Why not let God draw the lines?

Phil Sanders said...

Who is drawing lines? Our problem is not that we are drawing lines. Our problem is that many are not heeding the lines GOD has drawn. When people say sprinkled folks are saved, when people say self-made religion is okay, when people are opening the door to anything and everything... We aren't listening to God... That's the problem.


dell said...

Quoting from Paula, "the Bible doesn't say not to do many things so where do we draw the lines."

Again I make the statement, "Why not let God draw the lines?"

Phil Sanders said...

Let's be careful that we do not assume too much here. God has spoken about many things. Baptism is immersion for the forgiveness of sins. God has told us to sing. God has told us there is one church and many other things.

God has also told us that we must reject self-designed religion. He rebukes those who tolerate error.

Now God has spoken about these matters again and again. He has not been silent about rejecting human innovations.

So if God has drawn these lines, should we not respect and apply them?


Anonymous said...

If people use IM during the worship service, why aren't they sacrificing goats and calfs? Bringing grain offerings? If they do one, then wouldn't they have to perform the others as well?

Anonymous said...

It seems that a root problem is illustrated even in the title of your post. The new testament calls on me hundreds of times to believe. Over and over again the instruction is to believe, but over and over again especially in the gosples its not a "what" its a who, and what he said. Over and over again your blog constantly harps on what people believe and rarely, (not even mentioned in this post) on Who we believe and placing our faith on what He did and how to trust Him. Because of this imbalance, i removed your blog from one that i read and think on. peace

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Philip Sims,
If you do not choose to read, that is your business. But you are wrong when you say the emphasis is on whom to believe not what. Believing is believing is believing. May I suggest that believing Jesus is believing what He taught.

What kind of faith is it that says I believe in Jesus but don't bother me with what He said and taught.

My suggestion is that you take a concordance and look up how many times Jesus emphasizes His Word or his words or His teaching. You cannot be a true disciple and not abide in his words. hmmm....


Rick said...

Found in the great sermon on the mount:
"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46)

Guy said...


what do you make of the nature of IM in the OT? did it place the focus on the performers?

what precisely about IM is it which leads to the wrong emphasis? whatever it is, could it not also be present in our singing?

Phil Sanders said...

thank you for an insightful post. It seems that many Jews had fallen into showmanship, displaying their righteousness before men to be seen by them (Matt. 6:1-18). This was never the will of God. As for the temple, only the Levites sang and played. Whether they displayed that wrong attitude only the Lord knows. But Judaism fostered specialists.

Could those who only sing be guilty of such things? yes! The fellow who sings louder than everyone else may very well be guilty. I've seen and heard some song leaders who showed out. Abuse is wrong wherever it occurs.

Since I am not a Jew, I won't worship as Jews do. I don't look to the Old Testament to learn how Christians should please God in their worship. I look to the NT, and so should everyone.

The IM of today dominates worship in most denominational churches. The organ or piano is so loud that the music takes the focus and the words are hardly heard. Many worship services have become more like concerts than worship. The focus in on the performer's ability rather than upon the words of the song.