A respect for the authority of the Bible is basic to the restoration of New Testament Christianity. The old slogan: “Speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent” is both accurate and scriptural. The apostle Peter says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God…” (1 Pet. 4:11). Ours is a day of religious anarchy. But, those who reject the authority of God’s word and begrudge God the right to tell us how to work and worship in the church will be judged by the same standard they have ignored. When God speaks, we must listen and obey (Hb. 1:1-2; Jas. 4:17). Failure to do so will result in eternal ruin (2 Th. 1:7-9).


Our respect for the authority of the Bible will also be seen in how we view the silence of the Scripture. We must respect both what the Bible says and what it does not say. In directing our action, the Bible does not have to list everything that is forbidden. When God told Noah to use gopher wood, He did not have to specify all other kinds of wood as being off limits. He simply commanded Noah to use gopher wood. Similarly, when God commands us to sing and make melody in our hearts, He does not have to tell us that using instrumental music in worship is sinful. The silence of the Scripture has authority enough to keep us from doing other than that which is specifically mentioned (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19).


In discussing the priesthood of Jesus, the Hebrew author says, “For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests” (Hebrews 7:12–14). The inspired author argues from the silence of the Scripture. Someone may argue, “It doesn’t say a priest could not come from the tribe of Judah!” However, the Law plainly states that the tribe of Levi would serve as God’s priests. Therefore, all other tribes were excluded from serving as priests under the Law. A change of law was necessary before Jesus could serve as our high priest.


Using a similar argument, one might suggest that the Bible does not explicitly forbid the use of instruments of music in New Testament worship. However, when God commands us to sing and make melody in the heart, all other kinds of music are excluded. To do otherwise would be to repeat the sin of Nadab and Abihu who died before the presence of the Lord (Lev. 10:1-2). God expects all those who seek His favor to show respect for His word Therefore, we must neither add to nor take away from the word of God (Rev. 22:18-19).


–Glen Elliott–