The Silence of the Scriptures
“I don’t understand the concept of the silence of the scriptures.” This is an increasingly voiced sentiment. However, we do understand the prohibitive nature of the silence of the scriptures to some degree. For example, take the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of me.” This is a positive command. Jesus didn’t have to explain who NOT to remember. Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t remember Abraham. Don’t remember Moses. Don’t remember Joshua. Don’t remember David. Don’t remember Hezekiah. Don’t remember John the baptizer.” I don’t know of any religious group observing the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of anyone but Jesus. Would it be sinful during the Lord’s Supper to remember someone other than Jesus? Yes. That shows a basic understanding of the silence of the scriptures.
It is not difficult to apply this same principle to other areas of worship. When it comes to singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, the New Testament doesn’t equivocate. The passages that speak of music in the church are limited. None mention instruments. All mention singing. Conclusion! The positive command regarding music in the church is: “Sing!” No one denies this. All agree that singing occurred. So why conclude that singing only is God’s desire? The scriptures are silent on the use of instruments.
Is that silence permissive? Is that silence prohibitive? Can the scriptures answer these questions? Yes. The examples of Nadab and Abihu teach that God’s silence is prohibitive (Leviticus 10:1-2). God’s commands to Noah to build the ark teach that God’s silence is prohibitive (Genesis 6:22). Silence prohibited the church at Corinth from calling themselves Paulites (1 Corinthians 1:13). Silence prohibited Jesus from being a priest under the law of Moses. (Hebrews 7:14, says “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.”) Silence prohibited the exaltation of angels to positions of divine authority (Hebrews 1:5, 13). In each of these examples God’s positive commands limit what may be done. “This do in remembrance of me.” No explicit prohibition is further necessary.
When we consider that man is not authorized to do anything he wants to do in worship (John 4:24), that worship becomes meaningless when we elevate human tradition (i.e. the use of instruments) to doctrine in worship (Matthew 15:9), that we cannot approach God in worship with a display of our own righteousness (Romans 10:2-3), and the prohibitive nature of the silence of the scriptures, we conclude it is sinful to worship God with the instrument.
May we strive to make our worship pure, holy, and acceptable to God. May we prostrate ourselves before His majestic throne with glory, honor, and thanksgiving. May we have the utmost spirit of humility as we contemplate His sovereignty, magnificence, and beauty (Revelation 4). May we realize that we are created for His pleasure and we do not live to serve self in offering worship (Revelation 4:11).