An Experiment in Christian Dialogue: Colossians 3:17

Angel with harpIn the first post of this series, I invited comment on 1 Corinthians 4:6, because it is, in my experience, the most frequently cited verse in support of the Regulative Principle (scriptural silences are prohibitions). Although the post received many comments, no one defended that interpretation of the passage. I’m not surprised.

You see, once you realize that hardly any of the New Testament was written at the time 1 Corinthians 4:6 was penned by Paul, “that which is written” is obviously a reference to the Old Testament — which he’d just quoted several times, routinely with the introduction: “It is written” (1 Cor 1:19; 1:31; 2:9; 3:19). Plainly, this verse does not support the Regulative Principle.

The verse that I’ve seen used nearly as often to support the Regulative Principle is Col 3:17, and it’s not as easily dismissed —

(ESV) And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The classic argument is that “in the name of the Lord Jesus” means “by the authority of the Lord Jesus.”

Truth Magazine writes,

Careful students know that we must have Bible authority for all that we do in service to God. Paul said, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). To do a thing “in the name of” someone is to do it by their power or authority (Acts 4:7). John wrote that we must abide within the doctrine of Christ (2 Jno. 9).

Bible authority is established by (1) Command, (2) Example or (3) Necessary inference. All three of these were used in settling the matter of circumcision in Acts 15. Without a command or direct statement, an example that is approved of God or some principle that necessarily infers the matter, it is without Bible authority.

Readers, in the context of Colossians, what is the proper exegesis of this verse? What was Paul saying to the church in Colosse?

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75 Responses

  1. You represent Christ as he dwells in you. Live and do what he would do when you talk and act in daily living.

    Give him the glory for all of your actions.

    Bob

  2. Seek the things which are above; set your minds on things above. (Col 3:1-2)

    Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Col 3:17)

    Whatever you do, work from the center of who you are, as for the Lord and not for men. (Col 3:23)

    Colossians 3 is Paul’s replacement of Colossians 2:16-23. Paul never leaves his people in a void where matters of spiritual formation are concerned. He always replaces the unhealthy practices he removes with a clear curriculum for Christlikeness. The three verses above are the anchors for the spirituality he shares with the Colossians. See how each of them is followed with practical statements of how to do them.

    DON’T seek what is above with cleanliness rituals – put on the new self.

    DON’T make a checklist of things you CAN’T do – do ALL as an ambassador of Jesus Christ.

    DON’T categorize your life – “I’ll just do whatever it takes to fit in at work and then be a Christian at church.” Do ALL that you do from your soul.

    That’s how I understand Colossians 3 (and 4:1-6) to work. Here’s the two-part reason why I don’t think the traditional reading works.

    1) panta means ALL. For this to establish the Regulative Principle for Christianity, it would require that there be a specific command for every single thing we do. Clearly that is unsupportable – even the conservatives know this.

    2) So they place Colossians 3:16-17 into their own category, referring only to a) the worship service or b) specifically Christian behavior. But that is an eisegetic choice – there’s absolutely nothing in the text itself to signify that Paul intended those verses to be limited in any way. Panta really does mean ALL – not “all you do in worship” or “all you do ‘as a Christian’.”

    Their adherence to the Regulative Principle (and a subconsciously modern understanding of ambassadors) drives their understanding of the “in the name of” concept. In a world where an ambassador can contact the President at a moment’s notice from anywhere on the globe, it is easy to believe that “in the name of” means “by specific command of”. But in a world where you might not see your ambassador for years, and you might not hear from them until months after the crucial situation, where the ambassador must improvise and act as they believe their sovereign would act – “in the name of” looks like a much broader concept.

    “You’re my ambassador – you know what I’m like – you have my orders – go reconcile the world to me.”

  3. What Bob said.

  4. And Nick. Forgot to refresh before posting. :^)

  5. This is another passage I’ve previousy blogged about. In short:

    If we are to live up to Col 3:17, we need to understand what God meant. Fortunately, He proceeded to explain it in the subsequent verses. Doing everything “in the name of the Lord” means “as is fitting in the Lord.” (verse 18). It means doing what pleases the Lord (verse 20). It means doing it with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. (verse 22). It means doing everything as for the Lord rather than for men (verse 23). It means doing it as service to the Lord (verse 24). In other words, it means doing everything in a manner worthy of one who calls Jesus Lord.

    This covers things that are written about in scripture, and also things that are not. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” “Whatever you do” is a pretty broad subject.

  6. To do everything consistently with who and what Jesus is and what he wants, with thanksgiving, so that our lives become a symphony of grateful worship to the Father through the Son, whether at work or home, in the garden or the soup kitchen, etc.

  7. I’m certainly sympathetic to the comments of Nick and Alan above. I think they both represent good contextual interpretations of the passage, and that they are correct in seeing those surrounding passages as providing interpretive light on the text.

    I would also add that we could think of acting “in the name” of someone as on behalf of that person, as an official ambassador. So acting “in the name of Jesus” is something that we shouldn’t do lightly, but not cowardly either. The best way of pursuing an ambassadorial life may not be by limiting ourselves to just the things he explicitly said or did, but by so immersing ourselves in those things he said and did that we develop hearts and minds that are aligned with his, by the power of the spirit. Discipleship, in terms of the reformation of our hearts and our ongoing sanctification, is the key to our representation of Jesus!

  8. I read this passage as a call to more like Jesus. It’s a encouraging call to love one another the way Jesus loved us — which is just what I would typically expect of Paul.

  9. And as ambassadors for Christ, we should not forget that He often exploded the traditional, mint-and-rue-tithing, Sabbath-restricting, hyper-legislative teachings of the Pharisees.

    We did not need more law. We needed grace, redemption, Christ.

    His law? To do what we do for others, for God … out of the love in our hearts; the gratitude for the deep love God has shown us in sending His Son to us and for us.

    Would the good folks of Truth Magazine also recognize that Acts 15 incorporates personal testimony (v. 4, vs. 7- 11, v. 12) and the direct operation of the Holy Spirit (vs. 8, 28) as part of the process?

    Would they agree that “less law” for Gentiles was what the council decided (vs. 19-21) and that grace, not law-keeping, was the sole basis of salvation (v. 11)?

  10. A quick examination of some 60 passages that use this phrase “in the name of” does not suggest anything other than the idea that to do something in someone’s name is to do so by that person’s authority. It does seem odd however to draw from the context of this statement in Colossians the idea that this was the main point Paul was making. A whole list of statements about godly living surrounds this text, and the most immediate context seems to emphasize the manner in which these godly behaviors are to be done — in v. 15 “and be thankful,” in v. 16 “with gratitude in your hearts,” and in v. 17 “giving thanks.”
    I also find it interesting that the writer of this article that appears in Truth Magazine cites this verse as proof that instrumental music is not authorized, when in verse 16 Paul specifically authorizes singing “psalms.” Are we next to “go beyond” this text and make the “unauthorized” assertion that Paul specifically meant to exclude certain portions of Psalms 33, 43, 57, 71, 81, 92, 98, 108, 147, 149, and 150?
    I followed the link to this article in Truth Magazine and found that the author cited several other passages to support his position that only unaccompanied singing was authorized in worship. Of the five passages cited – Mt. 26:30, Acts 16:25, Rom. 15:9, 1 Cor. 14:15, and Heb. 13:15 – only the Corinthians passage refers to a worship assembly of the church. This passage give two examples of things one must do “with my spirit,” namely pray and sing. In light of the broader context and other scriptures, it cannot be true that these are the only two things that are authorized in the assembly or that only these two acts of worship must be done “with my spirit.”

  11. No no, Tom, you totally misunderstand Paul!

    He meant them to SING the Psalms, not OBEY them!

    🙂

  12. Not much esle I can say about doing everything in the name of Jesus except to say that the CEI hermenuetic has nothing to do with that verse and is just another example of eisgesis rather than exegesis.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  13. Rex,
    Great word — eisegesis — it was new to me. I had to look it up

    “Eisegesis is the approach to Bible interpretation where the interpreter tries to “force” the Bible to mean something that fits their existing belief or understanding of a particular issue or doctrine.”

  14. This passage seems to have been discovered by the “authority folks” relatively recently. Growing up in a very conservative corner of the movement it was never cited in the authority arguments. Now it is everywhere. And forget Greek, the passage in very plain English and in every translation is obviously not a binding authority passage but a commitment passage. Whatever you do do it for Jesus. How can you make a law about do’s or don’ts and hang it on that?

  15. Forgive me for changing the subject a bit, but I cannot get past the statement, “Careful students know that we must have Bible authority for all that we do in service to God.”

    Wow! What a strong opinion!

  16. The phrase “in the name of” could in some uses refer to with the authority of the named person. It’s highly unlikely that the apostle was establishing a requirement that everything every Christian ever does must have a requiring law behind it. That would be difficult at best. Imitating Jesus doesn’t mean we have His power to heal or prophesy or even to die for another person. Paul was urging them and us to live like Jesus lived, to be thankful, to be kind, to show to others the fruits of the spirit rather than fleshly things. All the time. Everywhere. This is in total harmony with all apostolic doctrine. It’s not adding to what he and others elsewhere teach about Christian living.

  17. David,
    Exegesis is sometimes thought of as drawing OUT what is in the text and thus ex is used. We see it in words like exit ands exodus.

    Eisegesis is sometimes thought of as reading something INTO the text and therefore a big no-no.

    Eis is the prepositon in Acxts 2:38 that is translated “FOR’ (in many trranslations) the remission of sins. I believe the KJV translates it as UNTO the remission of sins, perhaps meaning with a view toward the remission of sins. The preposistion can be understood differently depending on whether it is with the genitive or a different preposistional phrase.

    Excuse this rabbit trail please. In English thepreposistion FOR can mean many things.

    You many buy a loaf of bread FOR $3.00 that is, in exchange for.

    A man may be executed FOR for murder that is because of.

    I may give to a Bible but it is not FOR you, it is FOR your wife – that is, with a view toward your wife being the recipient.

    It can be problematic to base a doctrine on a single verse of scripture and even more so to base it on a single preposition of that verse. My hunch is that prepositions can be used with some latitude in the Greek just as ion English. I am not a Greek scholar so that is just my hunch.

    A person may speak of being baptized BY the HS, or IN the HS of perhaps the baptism OF the HS. Although different prepositions are used the speaker may mean the same thing even though he may make essentially the same statement several times using a different preposition each time.

    The point of my rabbit trail is simply that we ought to consider the Bible as a whole. When we do that it is clear that we should be baptized, but nearly so clear that is in order to obtain the remission of sins.

    Hesed,
    Randall

  18. Randall,

    The simplest and most common meaning of eis is into. But it doesn’t fit many of the doctrinal wars that have been waged around eis so we don’t hear much about that with reference to Acts 2:38 or anywhere else.

  19. Context rules. The crowd asked “What must we do?” Peter answered that question. There were two things they must do: repent, and be baptized. As far as we can tell from what Peter said here, neither of the two is more important than the other. So it doesn’t come down to the translation of a Greek word. It comes down to context.

    Having said that, I’m not sure what this has to do with Col 3:17…

  20. Re: eis

    As I’m typing this, I am procrastinating…I should be studying for my Greek final at Ohio State tomorrow morning….but that’s beside the point.

    The class I’m taking is in Attic Greek…the form of classical Greek that preceded the common Greek our NT was written in…

    I’m in no means a biblical Greek scholar, but I can work my way around a classical text decently enough (though I’ll find out for sure tomorrrow!).

    Nick is right, the simplest, most frequent use of eis is “into.” But it’s also translated in some instances as “is,” and also commonly means “for (the purpose of).”

    Thanks, now I feel like I did some studying 🙂

  21. As stated by Todd, Col 3.17 is newer to the authority argument. The old stand by is Rev. 22.18-19.

    Maybe here is not the place, but I would llike to hear comments on the Rev. verses.

    Thanks,
    Steve Valentine

  22. Nick and bms,
    At the expense of incurring some amount of disapproval for continuing down this rabbit trail I do appreciate your comments regarding the normal translation of eis with the genitive. What y’all have said is consistent with what I have read in the past. And I note that “INTO” does not convey exactly the same meaning as “in order to obtain” or “in exchange for.”

    The larger point that I was trying to make is that one should not try to build too strong an argument on the basis or a single verse, much less a single preposistion in the verse.

    In this case a Jew speaks to other Jews and tells them they have crucified their Jewish messiah. They respond with something like “Oh my, in light of what we have done what should we do?” and Peter tells them to repent and be baptized with a view toward (into) forgiveness of sins …

    This passage and others, when read in the overall story, make it clear that it is appropriate for believers to be baptized. Indeed, it would be wrong to neglect baptism. Personally, I think being baptized immediately (even in the middle of the night) upon recognizing one has come to faith is Jesus is appropriate. But that is different from saying baptism is the magic moment at which our sins are actually remitted.

    Again, my apologies that this does not have much to do with Col 3:17.

    Hesed,
    Randall

  23. desertwanderer,
    Actually, I don’t find Revelations 22:18-19 very compelling on the question of authority at all.

    First, because even the verses themselves constrain the context to “prophecy”.

    Secondly, references to “the book”, in English, cannot be references to the New Testament or the Bible, since neither existed in the current form at the time Revelation was written by John.

    So, John must be talking about adding to or taking away from the words of prophecy in Revelations — that’s a pretty limited scope.

  24. Actually, the context of Colossians 3:17 extends at least back to 2:6 – “as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.”

    One of the central concepts in the subsequent discussion is in 2:12 – where we are buried with Christ and raised with Him.

    2:13 continues, “when you were dead in your sins… God made you alive.” He forgave us, He removed our guilt, and disarmed our enemies. Because of this (v. 16), do not allow any to judge you in matters of food, drink, Sabbaths, etc. for all these are but a shadow of the reality that is in Christ (v. 17).

    2:18-23 discuss alternate paths to spiritual maturity – that do not work. Then 3:1ff returns to the death and resurrection theme: “Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God…for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

    Since this is true, we need to put to death some things in our lives (3:5-9). Having rid ourselves of these, he also points to things we need to put on “since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” where “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or fee, but Christ is all, and is in all” (3:9-11).

    In putting on the new self, we are to clothe ourselves with the things that exhibit the character of Jesus (3:12-14). This section concludes with 3:15-17 with the peace of Christ, the one body [of Christ], gratitude, the word of Christ, mutual edification with gratitude, and doing all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

    IN CONTEXT, doing all in the name of the Lord is doing everything as one alive in Christ who is living in Him with gratitude and love for the new life we enjoy in Him. Certainly, there is no room for rebellion against His will. We live our lives in His will for us – and the way we are to live our lives is described in the verses discussed above – with additional specific teachings for the special circumstances of different people: wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters in 3:18 – 4:1.

    4:6 is a good summary: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Does this mean you must always answer everyone with a quotation from the Scripture? Hardly.

    3:17 says every word is to be in the name of the Lord. 4:6 says your word [speech, KJV or conversation, NIV] is to be full of grace. When we live lives full of grace, we are living “in the name of the Lord” as “the salt of the earth” (cf. Matthew 5:13).

    To do all in the name of the Lord is to do all, calling on His Name as our reason for being since He is our all in all.

    Jerry

  25. Todd,

    I had wondered the same thing, because I don’t recall Col 3:17 being used that way in my early indoctrination. I wonder if someone went looking for a new prooftext when it became clear than 1 Cor 4:6 is indefensible in this context?

  26. desertwanderer,

    I’ll try to remember that. You’re right and the passage bears reflection. Remind me if I forget.

  27. The Truth Magazine article also maintains:

    “Since God specified singing, we are not at liberty to use any other kind of music. For example, Noah was told to build the ark of “gopher wood” (Gen. 6:14). Had God said, “wood” (leaving it in the generic), Noah would have been at liberty to use any kind of wood. Yet, because God specified “gopher” that eliminated the use of any other kind of wood. To build the ark of oak would not be authorized. To use gopher and oak would not be authorized.”

    Is this really a good example? Was the type of wood an issue with Noah? Does scripture tell us that he asked God for an oak amendment? That if Noah had mis-recognized oak as gopher wood, would God have sunk that ark with all eight souls aboard and all the animals He had intended to save? Are we legislating from silence here?

    [And why do virtually all of these online publications and doctrinal-advocacy Web sites have no provision for leaving comments (Forthright exception noted!)? Can the “truth” not survive dissent?]

  28. Keith,

    The gopher wood argument is flawed in this way, too. If Noah had built the ark of gopher wood but brought oil lamps so he and the animals could see, would he be in violation of God’s command? Obviously not.

    Just so, when we sing with an instrument, we sing. The command is obeyed. Had Noah used knotty pine instead of gopher wood, he’d have been disobedient (unless he couldn’t figure out what “gopher wood” any better than we can).

    You see, doing something not commanded isn’t sin if it doesn’t somehow conflict with the command — and is consistent with God’s will for our lives. I’m sure God would’ve been happy for the oil lamps, because they made the ark more functional for God’s purposes. I’m sure he also brought along a shovel or two.

    By the way, how did Noah send out the raven and the dove? God gave instructions for a door but not for a window. Did Noah add to the command by installing a window AND a door? Did this violate the command to install a door?

  29. Jay:

    Gen 6:16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top.

    Thar be them windows, matey. :^)

  30. Brad,

    Well, you got me there.

    What about the shovels?

  31. A post I did a long time ago on this scripture:

    http://oneinjesus.info/2008/01/17/a-plea-to-reconsider-must-we-have-authority/

    I wrote this in response to Dave Miller’s book “A Plea to Reconsider” finding the Richland Hills Church of Christ damned for adding an instrumental service.

    I don’t know why I bothered, though. Contending for the Faith has branded him a heretic, along with the rest of us.

  32. “Although the post received many comments, no one defended that interpretation of the passage. I’m not surprised.”

    Thanks for acknowledging the importance in paying attention to silences.

    Let’s be careful not to push the situation of a given writing too far. It’s a short jump to take the entire NT as situational only to the 1st century and thus we miss the principles that extend into the 21st.

  33. Rich,

    I didn’t limit 1 Cor 4:6 to the First Century. Rather, I exegeted it consistently with its context — historical and literary. And the notion that “that which is written” refers to the New Testament is an indefensible argument.

    The principles that it actually declares are as true to today as they were back then.

    On other hand, I’ve not said that the use of Col 3:17 in support of the Regulative Principle is indefensible. I believe it’s badly mistaken, but not indefensible.

    Therefore, I am a little surprised that no one has attempted to defend it. I’m not surprised that no one tried to defend 1 Cor 4:6.

  34. “What about the shovels?” – Jay

    Platypus.

  35. David,
    I lean in the same direction your heading. Although added meaning could be gathered from the fact that Rev. was the last book written and added to the bible we have today, so some seem to gather that this means Christ was talking about the whole bible – even though it was not put into its complete form as we have it now for some time after John recorded this statement.

    Thanks for the input.

    Steve Valentine

  36. Jay,
    Looking forward to seeing this appear in a future post.

    Thanks

    Steve Valentine

  37. Rev 22:18-19 explicitly refers to “this book” which would not have been the New Testament (not yet assembled into a book, and obviously not yet containing Revelation when Revelation was being written). We could take it as a direct command not to add to nor take away from Revelation.

    But also I think it would be reasonable to ask whether the same principle applies to other books. On what basis would it be worse to modify Revelation than to modify other inspired scripture? So perhaps it is fair to infer that the principle applies to all inspired scripture. Someone might call that a necessary inference.

    That still doesn’t touch the subject of silence IMO. When a church uses a piano in worship, they’re not adding to the book. Their bibles still say the same thing as those in the churches that do not use the piano. Using a piano in worship doesn’t require writing down a new law and adding it to the scriptures. I’m not aware of anyone who has done that. More to the point, I’m not aware of anyone who claims it is necessary to use a piano. So it’s not even a spoken law. OTOH those who demand that a piano not be used in worship are in effect stating a law that is not found in the book. So if unwritten law violates Rev 22:18-19, then it is the acappella only folks who are guilty of that. So Rev 22:18-19 weighs as heavily against “acappella only” worship as it would in favor of it.

  38. Who said, “By what authority are you doing these things?”

    Do we take the Pharisees who questioned Jesus as our example of demanding authority for everything we permit?

  39. Randall wrote:

    “Eis is the prepositon in Acxts 2:38 that is translated “FOR’ (in many trranslations) the remission of sins. I believe the KJV translates it as UNTO the remission of sins, perhaps meaning with a view toward the remission of sins.”

    For the record, the KJV does not translate it as UNTO, but “for” the remission of sins.

    And concerning the rabbit trail….

    Whatever it is that baptism was/is for, so is repentance. And the text reads: “repent AND be baptized FOR the remission of sins”

    Put simply, if baptism was/is “because of” the forgiveness of sins…then so would be repentance. For the book of God says that they are BOTH “for” the forgiveness of sins. The word “and” is a conjunction. God joined repentance and baptism together FOR the same thing (forgiveness).

    And what God hath joined together….let not man separate.

    And nobody (that I ever heard of), bases any “entire doctrine” on Acts 2:38.

    Remember that many other verses teach us what baptism is for — to get into Christ (Rom 6:3), to be saved (1 Pet 3:21), to put on Christ (Gal 3:27), etc….

    Salvation is IN Christ, baptism puts one INTO Christ (where salvation is).

    The baptism of the great commission is never said to be FOR anything else. At least not in the Scriptures.

  40. I apologize for my error. It is not the KJV bu the American Standard Version that translates the phase “unto the remission of sins…” The English Revised Version also translates it the same way and Young’s Literal Translation does it this way “and Peter said unto them, ‘Reform, and be baptized each of you on the name of Jesus Christ, to remission of sins…”

    Again, please excuse my error. It is the most literal translations that do not use the preposition “for.”

    Hank, please remember that the preposition “FOR” like other prepositions, can be used with a lot of latitude.

    Hesed,
    Randall

  41. Whatever it is that baptism was/is for, so is repentance. And the text reads: “repent AND be baptized FOR the remission of sins”
    Randall wrote:

    “Hank, please remember that the preposition “FOR” like other prepositions, can be used with a lot of latitude.”

    Fine. But concernining Acts 2:38 and the use of “for” in that passage, again…

    “Put simply, if baptism was/is “because of” the forgiveness of sins…then so would be repentance. For the book of God says that they are BOTH “for” the forgiveness of sins. The word “and” is a conjunction. God joined repentance and baptism together FOR the same thing (forgiveness).”

    How are you going to logically argue that repentance is “for” one thing (forgiveness) and that baptism is “for” another thing, when God has clearly stated that they are bot “for” the very same thing?

    The verse will always be, “repent AND be baptized FOR the forgiveness of sins”

    And why the attempt to separate what God has joined together?

  42. “please remember that the preposition “FOR” like other prepositions, can be used with a lot of latitude.” – Randall

    You are right Randall.

    Luke 5:12-14 “And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

    The man showed himself an offering for/unto the cleansing he had already gotten.

  43. Perhaps Colossians 3:17 has greater significance than doing all things “by the authority of” the Lord.

    Our very name comes from God.

    For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. – Ephesians 3:14-15

    Could Paul mean by “do all in the name of the Lord” that we are always to live in that name, since our very name comes from Him?

    If so, the thought would be similar to what he says in Ephesians 4:1. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

  44. Hank,
    I will reply to you once and only once. I NEVER made any attempt to separate repentance and baptism. I spoke only of the possible latitude in the meaning of the preposition “eis.”

    It seems to me you have repeatedly misrepresented comments made by others on this blog. If/When you do it again I will choose to simply let it go. It is an issue for you to deal with.
    The end,
    Randll

  45. Randall,

    If you have not attempted to separate baptism from repentance (and God has clearly joined them together), then whatever baptisim is FOR, so is repentance.

    If baptism is FOR the purpose of obtaining forgiveness, than so is repentance FOR the purpose of forgiveness.

    OTOH, if baptism is BECAUSE OF the forgiveness we already received, than so is our repentance BECAUSE OF the forgiveness we already received.

    If you want to believe that baptism is “because of” forgiveness…you would have to say the same thing about forgiveness. I assumed you were separating the two because I did not think you would argue that we repent “because of” the forgiveness of sins. If you ar willing to say that, I was wrong and am sorry.

    But, if you try to make one thing for one purpose and the thing for another… then you are wrong because God says they are both for the same thing.

    Which is it?

  46. Upon coming to faith and realizing all the God has done for me in Christ. I wanted and still want to please him and be like him. In light of (with a view toward) his love what else would I want to do? I certainly did not turn from my low down ways – which were.are many – in order to receive forgiveness. It is definitely in light of what he has done, is doing and shall do for me.

    Is the reason you repented (turned from your low down ways) primarily in order to receive forgiveness? Is it a quid pro quo – if you’re good enough you may get it? That seems both sad and sure to fail in light of human nature.

    Remember hesed,
    Randall

  47. Randall,

    Are you suggesting that the reason you repented was because you had already been forgiven?

    If so, well, it’s just the reverse of what the Bible actually teaches.

    The truth is that repentance and baptism both are in order to obtain the forgiveness offered to all by God.

  48. Luke 5:12-14 “And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

    The man showed himself an offering toward the cleansing he had already gotten.

    Peter told them to Repent, then they were to be baptized for the remission of sins (toward the forgiveness they had already gotten), Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    Peter’s emphasis was on repentance.

    As we see in Peter’s very next sermon he told the people to repent which is having a change of mind, Acts 3:19-20 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before.”

    Jesus said there is more joy in heaven over a sinner who repents.

    Luke 15:7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

    Luke 15:10
    Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

    Peter reminds people of God’s promise.

    2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

    Peter spoke the gospel to Cornelius and his household.

    Acts 10:34-43 “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ–He is Lord of all– that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

    Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit before they were water baptized.

    Acts 10:44-48 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.”

    Peter confirmed that God accepted the Gentiles the same as the apostles themselves were accepted by God, giving both the apostles and the Gentiles the Holy Spirit, and neither was during water baptism.

    Acts 15:7-9 “Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

    I believe God is all knowing. I believe God Who knows everyone’s heart knows when a person has genuine faith.

  49. Anon,

    That made no sense at all….

  50. You know I disagree with you, so it makes sense that you would try to say that.

  51. Let’s first put Colossians 3:16-17 in its context. Paul is writing to the Colossian church about maintaining proper relationships. In the first part of the third chapter he instructs the church about those things they must keep out of their lives – things that destroy relationships. Then beginning in verse 12, he writes about things they must put into their lives — things that make for peaceful and happy relationships.

    After telling the church to put on things like mercy and kindness and humility and forgiveness and love, Paul tells them to teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. He then reminds them in verse 17 that everything they say and do must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus. In the remainder of the chapter, and on into chapter four, Paul takes up specific relationships – husbands and wives, children and parents, servants and masters, Christians and unbelievers – telling the church what God expects them to say and/or do in those relationships.

    God has a way for us in every relationship. We are never left in the dark as to how we should conduct ourselves at play or at work, in the home or in the church. Paul reminds us that we are never free to make up our own rules for any relationship; whatever we do, in word or deed, must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    To say and do “in the name of the Lord Jesus” is to say and do what Jesus our Lord has instructed us to say and do. R. C. H. Lenski writes, “It means that absolutely everything… is to be done in the light of the revelation of our Lord and harmonize with that revelation. It ever reveals Jesus as our Savior-Lord to whom we belong absolutely and altogether.” (The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles, Colossians – Philemon, 179)

    Paul was not commanding that the Colossians say the name of Jesus before everything they said or did, he was commanding that they have the authority of Jesus for everything they said or did.

    What does that mean in the context of Colossians 3-4? It means fornication and covetousness and filthy language and lying are always wrong in every circumstance (3:5,8,9). It means Christians can do nothing but forgive one another when forgiveness is asked (3:13).

    Further, it means that wives must always submit to their husbands, and husbands must always show love for their wives in whatever they say or do (3:18-19). It means that children must obey their parents in all things, and fathers must never say or do things that provoke their children (3:20-21). It means servants (for us, employees) must obey their masters in all things, and masters (employers) must always be just and fair with their servants (3:22-4:1). It means that Christians must never do anything unwise or say anything ungracious to unbelievers (4:5-6).

    And yes, it means that Christians must teach and admonish one another in music by singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to one another (3:16). Verse 16 is in keeping with every other scripture that relates to spiritual music in the New Testament. Worship with instrumental music does not harmonize with the revelation of our Lord.

    To say or do other than what the inspired apostle Paul instructs in all these relationships is to say and do outside the name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle John wrote that such transgression of the doctrine (revelation) of Christ would mean that the transgressor “does not have God” (2 John 9). To be outside the name of the Lord is a condition of condemnation.

    And Colossians 3:17 is not only limited to what Paul wrote about relationships in chapters 3 and 4.

    Surely we understand that it is a general principle true of the entirety of the doctrine of Christ in the New Testament. (cf. 2 John 9) We can see it taught by Jesus in John 14:15 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” See it again in John15:10 – “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.”

    And again in 2 Corinthians 10:5 – “Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” There are plenty of others, but these verses ought to more than prove the point – whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    It was as many of you know, the old restorationists who pleaded, “Let us speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent.” That is what it means to say and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    The old restoration plea was right. It ought to continue to be our plea today as well.

    Humbly,
    Robert Prater

  52. Robert,

    You wrote:

    And yes, it means that Christians must teach and admonish one another in music by singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to one another (3:16). Verse 16 is in keeping with every other scripture that relates to spiritual music in the New Testament. Worship with instrumental music does not harmonize with the revelation of our Lord.

    Your last sentence is your opinion and is not substantiated by anything except your own opinion of what the text says. You’re unwillingness to acknowledge even something as simple as the disputed meaning of “psalto” diminishes the quality of your position.

  53. Paul was not commanding that the Colossians say the name of Jesus before everything they said or did, he was commanding that they have the authority of Jesus for everything they said or did.

    That’s an empty assertion. No passage of scripture commands that “they have the authority of Jesus for everything they said or did.”. Not one.

    What you read between the lines of scripture is not inspired scripture.

  54. David,

    While nearly all authorities on New Testament Greek offer definitions of psallo allowing the idea of musical accompaniment, the tendency of these authorities, especially the most reputable ones, is to affirm these are not the meanings in the New Testament; rather, they affirm the term there simply means “to sing a hymn” or “to sing praises.”

    In his comments on 1 Cor. 14:15, A.T. Robertson, one of the most highly acclaimed Greek scholars, explains the meaning of psallo thus: “…originally meant to play on strings, then to sing with an accompaniment, and here apparently to sing without regard to an instrument.” Robertson is of the opinion that the word does not imply instrumental music in the New Testament. He explains that the meaning of the word changed through time:

    ‘All authorities seem to agree that the earliest meaning of the word, hundreds of years before the New Testament era, was to “pluck, twitch or twang,” as in “pluck” a hair, or “twang” a bowstring, or “twitch” a carpenter’s line. At this early stage, the word had no special association with musical instruments.”

    Then, as Robertson explains, the word evolved so that its meaning became to touch or play the strings of a musical instrument. Afterward, it meant to sing in accompaniment with such an instrument. But yet later, in the common Greek of the New Testament period, Robertson and other authorities affirm that the idea of an instrument had been dropped, so that the word simply meant to sing a hymn or to sing praises.

    Joseph H. Thayer was Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at the Divinity School of Harvard University. He also served on the revision committee that produced the American Standard Version of the New Testament.

    In its day, Thayer’s work was the finest lexicon available, and still is of considerable value. He states that in the New Testament psallo means “to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song.” In discussing psallo, after commenting upon the word’s use in classical Greek, and in the Septuagint, he notes that “in the N.T. [psallo signifies] to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song. . . ” (p. 675).

    Both Thayer and Robertson, both eminent authorities, agree that psallo does not suggest musical accompaniment in the New Testament.

    The same may be said of Vincent. In his Word Studies in the New Testament. Concerning the noun psalmos as used in Col 3:16, Vincent says, “A psalm was originally a song accompanied by a stringed instrument… The idea of accompaniment passed away in usage, and the psalm, in New Testament phraseology, is an Old Testament psalm, or a composition having that character.”

    In his popular work, Vine, in commenting upon psallo (under “Melody”), notes the classical sense, the Septuagint usage, and then says: “… in the N.T., to sing a hymn, sing praise” (p. 730).

    Vine explained the matter more fully. “The word psallo originally meant to play a stringed instrument with the fingers, or to sing with the accompaniment of a harp. Later, however, and in the New Testament, it came to signify simply to praise without the accompaniment of an instrument”

    Several other Greek authorities also express the view that psallo in the New Testament simply means “to sing praises” or “to sing hymns.” Bagster says, “in N.T. to sing praises,” and this same definition is given individually by Perschbacher, Green, Wigrim, H.K. Moulton, and Mounce. J.H. Moulton and Milligan define it with, “in the N.T., as in Jas 5:13, sing a hymn.” Abbott-Smith say of it, “in the N.T., to sing a hymn, sing praises.” Walter Bauer defines it to mean, “to extol by singing praises, to sing praises.” Contopoulos says, “to sing, to celebrate.” Kittel claims that psallo and the Greek word ado are synonyms, and defines the latter as “to sing.”

    In the revised edition of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, David Howard of Bethel Theological Seminary, commented upon psallo.

    “Psallo originally meant to play a stringed instrument; in the LXX it generally translates zimmer and ngn. In the NT it refers to singing God’s praises (not necessarily accompanied by strings)” (p. 314).

    In the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, Balz and Schneider write: “In the NT psallo always refers to a song of praise to God” (p. 495).

    In his popular work, Word Meanings in the New Testament, Ralph Earle comments on psallo in Ephesians 5:19.

    “‘Making melody’ is one word in Greek, psallontes. The verb psallo meant first to strike the strings of a harp or lyre. Then it meant to ‘strike up a tune.’ Finally it was used in the sense ‘to sing’” (p. 333).

    It is important to remember that these men were affiliated with denominational groups that use instrumental music in their worship. They have no motive for misrepresenting the facts of this issue. Their testimony, therefore, is compelling indeed.

    On the other hand, yes, it must be acknowledged that a few scholars have set aside the historical evidence and asserted psallo in the New Testament embodies the idea of “playing” a musical instrument.

    The best example of this is the Baur-Arndt-Gingrich lexicon. In the first edition (1957), William Arndt and F.W. Gingrich defined psallo as follows: “. . . in our literature, in accordance with OT usage, sing (to the accompaniment of a harp), sing praise. . . Rom. 15:9. . . Eph. 5:19. . . ”

    What most did not realize at the time, however, was that the phrase “to the accompaniment of a harp” was not in Baur’s original work. It was added by the subsequent editors. Following the death of Arndt, Frederick Danker joined with Gingrich for yet another revision (2nd Ed.). At the time, Danker apparently was unaware of the “tampering” by Arndt & Gingrich. When he learned of it, he admitted that the earlier editors had made a “mistake” in their rendition. He promised to try to remedy the error in a future revision.

    Gingrich later acknowledged that the added phrase was only his interpretation. In the 2nd edition (1979), the phrase was deleted. However, this comment was added — obviously to placate someone.

    “Although the NT does not voice opposition to instrumental music, in view of Christian resistance to mystery cults, as well as Pharisaic aversion to musical instruments in worship. . . it is likely that some such sense as make melody is best here [Eph. 5:19]” (p 891)

    In both 2nd and 3rd editions suggest that those who render psallo by the word “play” in Ephesians 5:19 “may be relying too much on the earliest meaning of psallo [i.e., the classical meaning].”

    In past studies on this subject I’ve done, of the 30 New Testament Greek authorities I have considered, only a handful define psallo in such a way as would necessitate musical instruments. The definite tendency was for the most reputable authorities to define the term as basically meaning “to sing.”

    It is universally understood that when a term has multiple possible meanings, one must examine context, other scriptures, history, etc., to determine which meaning is intended, and that conclusions implied by all other meanings of the term are to be rejected as false.

    When this proper approach is applied to psallo and psalmos, we believe the invariable conclusion is that these terms cannot be used to support instrumental music in New Testament worship. There is not the slightest evidence that Christ or the Apostles ever did not use musical instruments, nor did they ever explicitly authorize their use. There is no evidence that the New Testament church ever used them, and there is irrefutable evidence that they were deliberately excluded from church worship for many centuries after the Apostles.

    David is that “substantiated” enough for you:)?

    Humbly,
    Robert Prater

  55. Thank you for a very thorough presentation. But your conclusion about psallo makes my point — neither you nor Thayer nor Kittle nor Arndt & Gingrich nor anyone else can say absolutely that psallo in excludes the instrument.

    And your own final paragraph acknowledges that there is no evidence either way what the practice of the earliest vestiges of the fellowships did in worship. Nor even if their practices were uniform.

    What you’ve laid out here, at best, is a case based upon “the preponderance of the evidence.” But is that the standard by which you would speak in the name of God, condemning those who reach a different conclusion than you?

    My objection is not that you would rather sing without instruments — most of the time, I prefer to, as well. But I find no basis to condemn those who sing with instruments.

    I find Jesus calling me to love people and try to draw them closer to him. And I don’t think instrumental music, inherently, has any affect either way.

    Your brother,
    David

  56. David,

    I have not desire to “condemn.” God will judge. Not me!

    My obligation and desire is only to as best as I can to faithfully proclaim and encourage all people to “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15) To remind people that said Jesus that the Word he spoke will judge them in the last day. (John 12:48) And Jesus continued to give His “Word” through His inspired apostles and other N.T. writers—1 Cor. 14:37.

    I fully admit that this is a fine line in pressing this truth without condemning others to hell. But it is a fine line that am trying to walk.

    I want to encourage all true sincere seekers of God’s Word to see the total evidence on the subject of instrumental music in Christian worship. To see whether its use in Christian worship is positive or negative. It will be left to one’s own conscience as to what to do in the face of the evidence.

    However, when unauthorized practices and doctrines are introduced into the Lords’ church and thus result in division, I must speak out against such practices as being not only “without scriptural authority” and approval but divisive. And Paul even charged also: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them…”

    I just cling to that when God specifies a path to follow, we should follow it with full faith in the superiority of God (Isaiah 55:8) … for it is not in man to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23).

    Sincerely,
    Your brother in Christ
    Robert Prater

  57. Plainly, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything” makes the point that Paul is discussing everything. “Whatever.” “In word or deed.” “Everything.” These are intentionally, redundantly all-inclusive.

    If this passage requires CENI authority for anything, it requires it for EVERYTHING — even eating cookies before going to bed or watching football on TV.

    The phrase “in the name of” was ancient even in the First Century, going back to the Torah. The meaning is a bit elastic, and so we have to be careful to read without our preconceived notions of the meaning.

    It means “as a representative of” or “in honor of.” If an explorer says, “I claim this land in the name of the Queen of England,” he means he’s claiming it as her agent, on her behalf. It’s by her authority, but not necessarily by her command or even with her permission. The explorer may well have no charter from the queen telling him to claim land on her behalf, but out of loyalty to his monarch, and knowing her desires, he may well claim the land in her name anyway. And so, it’s a mistake to confuse “as a representative of” with “following the command of.” They are two very different things.

    Consider these scriptural examples –

    (Deu 18:5) For the LORD thy God hath chosen [the priest] out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever.

    (Deu 21:5) The priests, the sons of Levi, shall step forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the name of the LORD and to decide all cases of dispute and assault.

    Here, the priests is acting as God’s representative but he’s also acting in God’s honor. But representation seems to be the primary sense.

    Or consider Levirate marriage–

    (Deu 25:5-6 KJV) If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. 6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

    The son conceived this way inherits as though a full son of the woman’s first husband. Hence, the phrase means either “in honor of” or “as a representative of.” It does not mean “by the authority of.” The passage isn’t saying that the widow must submit sexually to the brother because he has the deceased husband’s authority!

    (1 Ki 18:32) And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.

    (Psa 20:5) We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.

    Here, it likely means “in honor of,” although it could mean “as representative of.” There’s no indication of any command from God to build that altar or to lift those banners. These deeds were done to God’s glory without a command!

    (Acts 16:18) She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

    Just so, the most natural reading is “as a representative of,” but “in honor of” or “to give glory to” works, as well. It does not mean, “Because I was command by.”

    (1 Cor 5:4) When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,

    “In honor of” or “to give glory to” seems to work better here than “as a representative of,” although that could be the meaning as well.

    (Col 3:16-17) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

    It could mean “as a representative of Jesus,” but “to the glory of” or “in honor of” Jesus also works well, especially in light of the context. It does not mean “doing only that which has been commanded.”

    Thus, the meaning is, whatever you do, do it to the glory of Jesus. Or “as a representative of” Jesus. In either case, the idea would be that we should always act in awareness that we represent Jesus to the world and so he’ll be judged by our conduct. We must therefore act to bring glory, not shame, to Jesus. It has nothing to do with having scriptural authority.

    It’s important to realize that I can live my entire life to the glory of Jesus. Everything there is, is good because Jesus made it and gives it. It’s HOW we use it that can make it wrong.

    Hence, I can marry and work and take vacations or whatever in ways that bring glory to Jesus — or not. It’s a matter of letting the Kingdom extend to all aspects of our lives — redeeming everything we touch — in the name of Jesus.

    If the translation were “do it all by the authority of the Lord Jesus,” it still wouldn’t mean “only do that which is authorized by the Lord Jesus,” as the grammar is, if you do it, do it in Jesus’ name — not only do what Jesus authorizes.

    To argue that “in the name of” means “as commanded by” or some such, Dave Miller cites Acts 4:7-10 in A Plea to Reconsider –

    (Acts 4:7-10) They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “… 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

    Now, quite plainly, Peter is saying that the power of healing is from Jesus. But an idiomatically accurate translation would be that they’d healed “as representatives of Jesus Christ.” The question of having permission from Jesus or being commanded by Jesus really isn’t the point. Rather, the point is that the healing comes from Jesus and speaks of Jesus.

    To double check this conclusion, though, let’s look at the context, not just the phrase he emphasizes.

    (Col 3:12-17) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

    And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

    Verses12-15 speak to how we are treat each other. They’re about getting along as the community of God. The section concludes with a command to be thankful. Verse 16, again addressing the community, tells us how to express our gratitude to God — through song. Finally, verse 17 continues the theme of gratitude, telling us that our gratitude should lead us to always act as representatives of Jesus.

    In verses 18-22, Paul commands submission by wives, husbands, children, fathers, and slaves. He concludes,

    (Col 3:23-24) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, <strong.as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

    You can’t help but notice the parallel between verse 23’s “whatever you do” with verse 17’s “whatever you do.” In verse 23, Paul’s point is that we should work as though serving Jesus. “As though serving Jesus” parallels “in the name of the Lord.”

    Paul then offers additional counsel and concludes a few verses later,

    (Col 4:5-6) Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

    Now, it would be quite a surprise in this context for Paul to say “only do those things authorized by Jesus.” He’s not limiting what people can do. Rather, he’s telling his readers how to live as Christians while doing what they are already doing. And that’s the theme of these verses, and that’s the meaning of verse 17, which is really the theme sentence of this all.

  58. Robert Prater said:
    “When this proper approach is applied to psallo and psalmos, we believe the invariable conclusion is that these terms cannot be used to support instrumental music in New Testament worship.”

    Is this the invariable conclusion that must be reached?

    You acknowledged: “It is important to remember that these men were affiliated with denominational groups that use instrumental music in their worship. They have no motive for misrepresenting the facts of this issue. Their testimony, therefore, is compelling indeed.”

    How can you cite the scholarly works of these men in support of your “invariable conclusion” and ignore the fact that the scholars obviously did not reach the same invariable conclusion as you? By choosing to affiliate with denominations that use instruments in their worship, those scholars obviously did not think that the meaning on the single word leads to the invariable conclusion that instruments are excluded from the worship of the church.

    Even if you are correct about the word’s meaning by the time the epistles were written, that is only one step in the analysis. You still must show that the context of the verses applies specifically to the assembly and that the meaning of the entire verse somehow prohibits the instrument.

    Your “invariable conclusion” skips these two steps and it is obvious that even though the scholars you cite might agree with you on step one, they do not follow you across steps two and three. It seems that your “invariable conclusion” is nothing more than a logical leap that lacks support.

  59. David,

    I appreciate the good discussion we’re having. I do respect your viewpoint and others on this blog, even though I disagree with them.

    May can disagree without being “disagreeable” or nasty! I’m trying to do such.

    You said, What you’ve laid out here, at best, is a case based upon “the preponderance of the evidence.”

    My friend, shouldn’t t his “preponderance of evidence” cause to think or move very carefully in regard to IM.
    There is broad admission by historians and religious scholars that instrumental music was not used in the early days of the church and most admit that the passages in the NT about singing do not involve their use.

    I have observed that progressives hate to concede the historical argument. It just seems there is no argument against instrumental music that disturbs and rankles the proponents more than this one.
    I mean here is all this evidence AGAINST IM and points only to singing only. Add to this of course the fact that instruments are not found anywhere in the pages of the NT. They are not found in the 500 years before the NT. And they are not mentioned in the 600 years after the NT.

    In over a thousand years of history we do not have hardly a HINT of evidence that God’s people were using instruments. Nada –nothing.

    Someone may say, “Well history doesn’t prove anything.”

    But, my dear progressive friends and those reading this blog, if you are trying to advocate the use instruments, you better hope it does, because you sure aren’t going to prove anything by the NT. Those who dismiss this evidence should ask themselves if they would feel differently if the evidence were the other way around. What if there were all kinds of references to the early Christians using instruments?

    Are you trying to tell me that advocates of instruments would just ignore that? Of course not. Well neither can we ignore the unanimous testimony of history that Christians did not use instruments for a period that is three times as long as the entire history of America.

    My friends…..again, when the word of God is silent on a subject no matter how much you may believe what you really have is opinion, not Bible faith. If there is no word of God on a subject there can be no faith, only opinion. To have faith you must first hear the word of God (Rom. 10:17). This is further proof we cannot be guided by what the Bible does not say not if we are to walk by faith.

    A foundational principle of the Christian faith is that without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Heb. 11:6 NKJV) Faith is always dependent on evidence. We dont believe in little green men, pink elephants, nor ten foot tall mushrooms because there is no evidence of their existence. We do not actually have to see a thing to believe it but we do have to have evidence.

    When it comes to instrumental music the problem is that evidence is lacking. Not a single word about its usage is found in the New Testament. It is hard to have faith in a thing that is not even mentioned or hinted at. Is silence reasonable evidence?

    There is plenty of evidence, however, in the pages of the Bible about changing worship to God. All the evidence points towards the idea that it is a very dangerous thing for man to change the worship of God.

    In Matt. 15:9 Jesus quotes Isaiah and applies it to those with whom he was speaking as follows: And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” I want you to look at some things. These people were worshipping God, not idols. Yet, it was all in vain. Why? They were teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

    Again, if I use the instrument in worship I am not being guided by what the Bible says but by what the Bible does not say. The Bible does not say not to use them. I am being guided by what the Bible does not say. Is this the way we are to live?

    There story is told about two men were in a public debate about the use of instruments. The one favoring instruments was an excellent pianist. The one opposing instruments said to him, “There is a piano on the stage here. Would you play Amazing Grace for us.”

    So the man did. When he finished, the opponent of instruments said to him, “Why didn’t you sing.” To which the one favoring instruments said, “You didn’t ask.” The other man replied, “I rest my case. We don’t use instruments in the worship because God didn’t ask.”

    Let’s just worship in song as the scripture specifies and leave off the instruments which it does not specify.

    Surely it is better to follow the path we can be sure is God’s way!

    In Christ,
    Robert Prater

  60. Robert,
    I certainly recognize the history of the early fellowship and have no reason to dispute it, but that history plus your acceptance of the silence argument is not compelling on the issue, at least to me.

    The fact that early Christians continued to follow their pattern of Jewish worship is almost predictable — just as most of us today follow the pattern we’re most comfortable and familiar with.

    And frankly, the frequent references to our “freedom in Christ” by Paul and other writers of the epistles, can be interpreted as evidence of right to pursue less familiar patterns of worship, so long as they remain “in spirit and in truth.”

    There is certainly nothing illogical about such a conclusion.

    There is a lot of IM, which I don’t enjoy, because it does “overwhelm” audience participation. But I’m equally bothered by a cappella music, when we sing a song that no one knows — which also minimizes audience participation.

    Thus, my view is that whichever we do about music, whether it’s a cappella or accompanied, we should be sure it draws the audience into the worship of God and encouragement of one another — and I think our failure to do that is a more significant failure than the use of instruments or our reliance on vocal music alone.

    David

  61. David,

    You said, “The fact that early Christians continued to follow their pattern of Jewish worship is almost predictable..”

    It is very common for some to assert, that the absence of IM in worship of the apostolic church was not because of any theological objection, but because
    because it followed the practice of worship in the synagogue.

    I don’t know if that is the “pattern of Jewish worship” you are referring to or not.

    But what about the Gentiles???

    Remember the apostles refused to bind on Gentiles deeply held Jewish practices that were rooted in the Old Covenant (circumcision and food laws most notable), so they would not bind on Gentiles what was merely a preference of the synagogue??

    So my question to you is this: If unaccompanied singing was not something bound on the Gentiles, then would it not certainly have been the case that of them would have introduced instrumental music in their worship?

    But it seems there must have been some objection to the use of instrumental music and it must then have been something other than mere synagogue preference.

    Where is this “freedom in Christ” you say Paul and other writers of the epistles gave in this matter?

    Where is the evidence that the Gentiles “interpreted” this “as evidence of right to pursue less familiar patterns of worship” as you say??

    One more thing about worship…..

    Only God can know what is pleasing and acceptable to Him. Therefore, we must consult His Word as to what pleases Him in the worship service, and we rejoice because He has given us His will in the matter of music–sing!

    God is the only one who can define what true worship is, since He alone knows what will bring Glory to Him and provide for our needs. Any definition of what true worship is, must be derived from God. Worship must not come from man’s will, desires, or passions.

    Therefore, worship must be only what God has defined it to be. Our worship should be done for, and directed toward, God. Worship is specific actions done with the right attitude—it is attitude in action!

    Sincerely,
    Robert Prater

  62. But Robert, Jesus did define it — in spirit and in truth — that’s the only definitive statement we have.

  63. Once again, we end up at the same point: the Regulative Principle. If you (the reader) consider the RP to be intact in the New Covenant, then you will have to not only search history for IM, but for songbooks, church buildings, pews, Sunday schools, cars, fast food, and all the other things that have been argued about in the last 100 years.

    If you (the reader) see in the Scriptures that such exactness was simply an ineffective shadow as the Hebrew writer says; that it was a demonstration to man that he could not be perfect in a law-based system; and that the New covenant is about freedom that is led by the Spirit in a continually-purifying grace-covered process of becoming like Christ – then all of the arguments are moot. There is no reason to chase rabbits down the RP hole.

    The RP is the root of disagreement, it seems. Everything hinges on that one idea, and nothing else matters without that one issue addressed.

  64. To my progressvie friends….

    I usually get “drilled” with questions from every direction….I’m not complaining…I enter this website on my own free will. Now although I don’t respond to everyone’s questions….I do try to answer many.

    And so I’d like for you my progressive friends to answer my sincere question which I asked David but he didn’t even attempt to answer: (But please, don’t respond unless you are willing to go back and read the comments which David and I have posted previously…that will be helpful in the context of the question)

    QUESTION: If unaccompanied singing was not something bound on the Gentiles, then would it not certainly have been the case that of them would have introduced instrumental music in their worship?

    Especially in ilght of the idea that there is all this “freedom” that David and Brad like to talk so much about….free to worship God however we choose to so long as it’s in spirit and truth which they is apparently the only binding principle which many progressives will cling to.

    Again, where is the evidence that the Gentiles “interpreted” this “freedom in worship” as evidence in the use of IM??

    A few more questions if I may ask you:

    Do most of the progressives (or anyone else) agree with David’s view that Jesus statement about worship being “in spirit and in truth” is that only definitive statement we have from Jesus on worship?

    Do Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 in a context clearly dealing with both worship and church organization, apply as a definitive statement? “If I am delayed, ou will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

    Go back to what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”

    Definitve statement or not?

    Again…..what about Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:34ff ” As in all the congregations of the saints, 34women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.”

    Definitive statement or not? Do we have freedom to do otherwise as long as they are “in spirit and truth”?

    Remember Paul says in a few verses later, “If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.” Sounds pretty like a pretty definitive statemeent to me from the Lord??

    What about Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

    Anything definitive about that?

    Don’t we also learn that the Lord’s supper is to be observed on the first day of the week, because the early disciples “came together” for this purpose (Acts 20:7). It was something in which they “continued steadfastly,” (Acts 2:42). The “breaking of bread” was the communion (I Corinthians 10:16).

    Jesus Himself said: “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24). We have a direct command.

    Is that definitive or not?

    Just some questions I have……

    Sincerely,
    Robert Prater

  65. Robert:
    Without taking care of RP first, then you will accomplish nothing by asking any more questions.

    There is only one question to ask of anyone who is reading this: is your view of Scripture based on the Regulative Principle? You have already answered yes in other places, as I have answered no. What is there left to discuss?

    If you then ask questions of someone who does not view Scripture through the RP lens, then you will surely miscommunicate from start to finish, as we can find throughout this site.

    At some point, you will have to be satisfied that none of the arguments you have mean anything outside the RP and just leave it at that.

    I will concede at any point that my conservative brothers are well studied, passionate for their cause, and are truly concerned for their brothers. I would love to hear that you understand the same about your progressive brothers.

    I will also concede at any time that your arguments are well thought out, well stated, and that if I believed in the RP, I would be convinced. I understand how you arrived at your conclusions, as at one time in my life I not only believed what you do, but fought even more passionately for it.

    I hope that at some point you’ve stopped and at least thought, “Is there a possibility that these brothers are correct?” For without that courtesy, there can never be reconciliation.

    But I can not concede the RP. Scripture does not support it. You believe Scripture does support it. It has to end there, and we both have to be satisfied with that for the moment. All other questions are irrelevant, since one’s view of the New Covenant will be the language of discussion. Two different views = two different languages, aptly illustrated by the above series of comments.

    The only thing I see left to talk about is building a translation bridge between the two.

  66. QUESTION: If unaccompanied singing was not something bound on the Gentiles, then would it not certainly have been the case that of them would have introduced instrumental music in their worship?

    Possibly, yes. But not “certainly”. However I don’t think we should be deriving doctrine from uninspired church history, so it really doesn’t persuade me either way.

    Do most of the progressives (or anyone else) agree with David’s view that Jesus statement about worship being “in spirit and in truth” is that only definitive statement we have from Jesus on worship?

    Not exactly. The word translated “worship” in John 4:24 is never used in scripture to refer to what Christians do in the assembly. Not even once. Jesus was not talking about what we call a “worship service” in John 4:24.

    Do Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 in a context clearly dealing with both worship and church organization, apply as a definitive statement?

    In that passage Paul tells why he wrote the letter. The letter addresses qualifications for elders (which pertains to a role with 24×7 responsibility, not particularly to the Sunday assembly.) The letter also addresses numerous other aspects of Christian life outside the assembly. But yes, what Paul wrote is definitive. What he didn’t write, isn’t.

    Regarding 1 Tim 2:12 and 1 Cor 14:34, my views probably differ from most here, but I believe those passages are definitive and not at all difficult to understand. I would also add 1 Cor 11:3-16 to the list. Do you believe 1 Cor 11:3-16 is definitive? If not, why not? In my view, there are no commands in scripture that are more clear and more emphatic than those for women to be silent in the assembly and for them to cover their heads when praying. And that was apparently the united opinion of the Christian church for about 1900 years. What did we learn in the last half of the 20th century that made us more enlightened than all those preceding generations?

    Ok time for me to duck and cover….

  67. Robert,
    This has been an interesting exchange, but I think bradstanford got it correct. Our view of how to interpret scripture is dramatically different, as likely irreconcilable. I do not accept RP, CENI or silence as appropriate principles of understanding the Text.

    But I also appreciate the spirit of our exchange.

    Thanks, my brother.

    David

  68. David,

    I do as well appreicate the spirit of our exchange. Just trying to find ANY common ground between us moderates/conservaties and progressives in the CofC.

    Now, I do agree with you and Brad about how our view to interpret scripture is dramatically different.

    You say you not accept “RP, CENI, or silence as appropirate principles of understanding the Text.”

    Let’s just toss those terms out for the moment.

    Now, some people are willing to concede that God regulated worship in the OT economy (e.g., in the Tabernacle and Temple) but that he has lifted the regulations under the NT economy? Agree or disagree?

    They claim that since Christ has abolished the Ceremonial law in His death, worship is now unregulated under the NT? Agree or disagree?

    Yet, I do believe the Apostle Paul “regulated” in principle when he explicitly condemns man-made doctrines, commandments, and human will-based worship (Col 2.20-23)? Agree or disagree?

    I also believe he “regulated” by laying out specific guidelines for worship in 1 Corinthians, chapters 11 and 14 and 1 Timothy 2 and 3. Agree or disagree?

    Didn’t the early church “remain” in the “apostles doctrine….”? Is that not something of a regulation…to remain or abide in something. (cf. John 8:31-32)? Agree or disagree?

    So if it is possible…..….IF we can accept that God regulates worship in the NT system, as our starting position, there are then only two possible basic positions that can be proposed as to how He regulates worship. He either regulates it by proscribing the elements of worship (i.e., negatively) or by prescribing the elements (i.e., positively).

    Agree or disagree? (Not that there won’t be any crossover but in general truth)

    So, my progressive brothers, please help me understand as your more conservative brother, what exactly is your rationale against ANY concept of “regulation?” Are you “hung up”only on the silence argument….. that “what is not commanded is forbidden?” The problem is that there is a corollary that is often ignored by those who reject the RP – “what is commanded is required” – progressives seem to spend a great of energy arguing against the first part of the rule and ignore the second.

    Again, I ask questions to you my brothers….

    What is appropriate for corporate worship? How is this determined? Do you reject the concept that the only sufficient guide for us on these matters is God’s Word, the Bible? Agree or disagree?

    That Scripture alone should guide what we are doing in our worship services?

    I think most Christians would agree on this point, but sadly how many contemporary churches actually use the Bible as their final authority on worship practice?

    Again, if we want to know what worship is, we are aging to have to turn to God and say, ‘You tell us, please, what worship is?” One writer very properly has said: “Worship is not what turns us on, necessarily, but it is what turns God on, if we may speak that way about Him.”

    So I ask you……..

    Is there a New Testament pattern for our assemblies? Is there anything in the Bible that indicates what God will be pleased with as we gather to worship him and edify one another, or is anything we choose to do that excites us and makes us feel good acceptable as an assembly activity?

    Is it ever important to ask concerning what we engage in as worship in our assemblies, “Is this biblical?”

    Should we ever wonder whether what we are about to do can be demonstrated from Scripture to be acceptable to God?

    It was the great pioneer in the early days of the attempt in America to restore apostolic practices who said:

    “Those, then, who contend that there is no divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies, do at the same time, and must inevitably maintain, that there is no disorder, no error, no innovation, no transgression in the worship of the Christian church — no, nor ever can be {Alexander Campbell, “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things,” Christian Baptist, Vol. 2, pp. 240241).

    Do you agree or disagree?

    Now I’m sure you know, this was one of the driving principles for change in the Reformation – doing only what Scripture prescribes in our worship practice.

    This standard of only Scripture guiding worship practice would become known as the Regulative Principle.

    In his treatise, “On the Necessity of Reforming the Church,” a document he to be presented by the leaders of the Protestant movement to the Emperor Charles V, Calvin wrote the following:

    “I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honour of God. But since God not only regards as fruitless, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice.’ ‘In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,’ (1 Sam. xv. 22; Matth. xv. 9.) Every addition to His word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere ‘will worship’ [Col. ii. 23]…is vanity. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate.” (John Calvin, “On the Necessity of Reforming the Church)

    Do you completely reject this concept? Are you not a byproduct of this in the American Restoration movement in CofC? The Restoration Movement of America passed on this tradition in Colleges and preaching schools – Lipscomb, Freed, Harding, Abilene, Pepperdine, OC, preaching schools Sunset, Preston Road, Bear Valley, etc., etc. All the great teachers and thinkers of both the Reformation movement and later on the men who would study their ideas and build on their concepts.

    Were they all just wrong? Legalists? Please, don’t get me WRONG, yes, we based our faith and believe on God/Christ and His Word not in MEN!!

    We must believe and practice the things contained in the doctrine of Christ, whether that’s what we’ve always believed, what the early Christians believed, or something in between.

    But I believe earnestly in those goals and appeals and think there was a reason that they yielded such an important movement in Christianity

    Do you agree or disagree?

    Can we hardly unite Christendom without the scriptural authority? Denominationalism has betrayed Christ but so has unity which is not on His Word?

    I know that most of my progressive friends have rejected this “old hermeneutic” (ofted called Baconian-Reformed CENI), but my question is what have you replaced with it?

    Do you reject ALL of the “old hermenetic?” God doesn’t authorize by explict commands, never instructs us by example or that we never are to draw out necessary implications from the text? That silence is always permissive not prohibitive?

    Do you have an objection to ALL efforts to seek Biblical precedents for congregational activities? Yes, we must be consistent with both the nature of the Biblical literature. Yes, we must a priority in our values that are at the heart (love for neighbor, each other, grace, forgiviness, discipleship, evangelissm, etc.)

    But do we “throw the baby out with the bath water?”

    Just doing some soul searching and “thinking out loud” with my progressive friends:)

    I’m just hoping we can agree on SOMETHING here even though we’ll have some differences in our approach to all Scritpure and interpretation.

    Do we not have more in COMMON than we might actually think??

    Sincerely,
    Robert Prater

  69. Brad,

    Yes I too would concede that my progressive brothers are “well studied, passionate for their cause, and are truly concerned for their brothers.”

    But the regulative principle did not burst forth ex nihilo. There is both good and solid and reliable Biblical and historical evidence to believe the Bible teaches its principles.

    It seem at time to me that some progressives seem bent on circumventing the clear meaning of the Old Testament passages and warnings such as: the warnings of Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 not to add to or take away from God’s commands; from Cain in Gen. 4:1-8; or Nadab and Abihu in Lev. 10:1-3; or Korah in Num. 16:3ff; or Saul in 1 Sam. 13:8-13; or Uzza in 2 Sam. 6:6-7; or Jeroboam in 1 Kgs. 13:1-5; or Uzziah in 2 Chron. 26:16-21.

    Do these have anything to all to say about the RP? Are they completely irrelevant to the discussion?

    Did not Jesus reject the worship of the Pharisees saying their worship was futile because they were teaching their doctrines rather than God’s doctrines? They were worshiping according to their will rather than according to His will.

    The apostles did not teach any doctrine that they had not received from their Lord (Cf. Gal. 1, Jude 4).

    This is clear from what the Apostle Paul wrote, concerning the Lord’s Supper, “I received from the Lord” he writes, “that which I also delivered to you…” (1 Cor. 11:23).

    Paul boldly asserted that he had taught ‘the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27), it is not surprising that he issued an ominous warning to any who would disregard his authority (1 Cor. 14:37).

    Yes, yes I know we both could observe how and by whom this principle has been greatly violated,

    But my standard remains unequivocally sola Scriptura.

    And so, no I make no apology whatever for defending this much-neglected — and much-misunderstood — principle. If we honor this principle I believe then no one will be required to do anything in worship that God has not commanded!

    “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” (John Calvin)

    :)!

    God bless,
    Robert Prater

  70. Brad,

    One more thing….I promise:)

    I want to comment on something you keep hitting on………

    Brad, yes I believe that Christians are under God’s Law, the Law of Christ, and not the Law of Moses system of justification by works of the law.

    But the New Testament clearly teaches New Covenant theology (i.e., Book of Hebrews) that, for the Christian, the Law of Moses has been replaced with the Law of Christ (and the Law of the Spirit). We are justified by faith in Christ and not works of the law.

    So please don’t imply I believe otherwise!

    I offer the humble, gracious words of Cecil May Jr.

    “I do not have the authority to bind anything on anyone. I have pointed to some of what I believe Scripture tells us is the will of God. You have to look at the evidence of scripture and decide for yourself what is true and what you will do with it.

    “The existence of a divinely authorized pattern for worship, or for other matters which we have not touched on, does not deny the gospel of grace. None of us is perfect, either in our actions or in our understandings. Some are further along in the maturing process than others. Some have had more opportunities to learn than others.”

    May further writes:

    “We are saved by the sacrifice of Christ through our faith in him [which includes obedience to Bible commands and requirements — to save faith must live and to live faith must obey (James 2:1426)]. However, such patterns for life and conduct, in the assembly and outside of it, tell us how our Lord would have us to live.”

    May concludes:

    “When we recognize that he has saved us by his death, when we believe that Scripture is his own revelation of himself and his will, and when in gratitude we search the Scripture for his will for us, all because we want to please the one who died for us, that is not legalism. It is faith working through love.
    (Firm Foundation, July, 2007)

    I couldn’t agree more.
    Humbly,
    Robert Prater

  71. Robert,
    Your last post to me requires a more complete response than I’ve given to others. But in general, it also highlights some of the differences between us.

    Col 2:20-23 — Paul clearly rejects human regulations, but earlier in Col 20:14, he also wrote that Jesus “canceled the written code, with its regulations.” So, he seems to be rejecting regulations on a much broader scale, than just human ones.

    I Cor 11 — My reading of 1 Cor 11 is that Paul is chastising the congregation for their excesses, and rather than setting down narrow guidelines for all eternity, he’s telling the Corinthian fellowship how to get focused back on what’s important. I see this passage as very consistent with Jesus’ “in spirit and in truth” admonition, rather than regulations.

    1 Cor 14 — Once again, Paul is talking to the Corinthians about worship because what they’ve been doing is not contributing to the edification of the group. His instructions are a practical matter of how they can return to better practices, rather than a solution for everyone. Not everyone is in the same boat the Corinthians were in. Paul’s admonitions are good, but are they intended to limit what the fellowship did, no. They were intended to eliminate things that were not helpful and were actually discouraging to those in the worship assembly.

    I Tim 2-3 — At the risk of being repetitive, I see these passages as describing the implications of living in the Spirit. Rather than rules to follow, I understand Paul to be saying to Timothy, if you and the fellowship are living in faith and love, being guided by the Spirit, this is what will happen. These are the type of things I say to someone I’m mentoring. But they do not negate or replace the broader principles which underly the guidance. Paul is describing the outcomes of the more fundamental principles, defining rules.

    What is appropriate for corporate worship?

    Whatever is edifying, uplifting, encouraging, loving, grace-filled, God-glorifying.

    And yes, I don’t think there is a narrow answer to that. I think it includes a lot more than what we may comfortable with. I even think it may be influenced by culture — ours certainly has been so influenced.

    I say this, because I think God cares about our hearts and our intentions. Even when our hearts are right and our intentions are good, we will mess up. We will do the wrong thing.

    God knows that making rules doesn’t bring us closer to him — rules only make it clear where our failures are. Rules define sin. Rules do not bring us closer to God.

    We get closer to God, by seeking to love one another, the way Jesus loved us. And I think that’s a higher standard than “loving your neighbor as yourself.” Love the way Jesus loved.

    And he loved us so much, that in spite of all the ways we mess up, he said to the Father, blame me for their sin. And the Father says, if you take the blame for all their sins, you deserve the worst punishment of all, but I love you too much, so I forgive you.

    So, we’re relying on Jesus to carry us to the Father.

    All I care about is whether someone tells me their trying to follow after Jesus. I’ll be glad to tell you what I believe and why. But the rest is between each person and God. My responsibility remains only to love the way Jesus loved.

    And that is such a high standard, it takes just about all the attention and energy I have to try to do that.

    So, do I think God cares about how we worship him? Yes, I do. But what he cares about is whether our heart is in the right place. I don’t think he cares about whether we got all the details correct (because he knows we’d mess up even if the details were clear — which they’re not).

    Your brother,
    David

  72. David,

    There is no question about the issue that worship must be sincere. It does no good to go through the “right motions” – sing the right songs, meet on the right days and say the right words, if we don’t really love God in our hearts.

    No debate there.

    And certainly I agree about worship should be edifying. This is not the same as asking “Do people like it?” Edifying means more than preference. It means “does this help build people up in the Lord Jesus Christ?” And this does seem to be where corporate worship does have slightly different “rules” than the rest of life. What may be good as an act of private devotion, may not be fitting in a service of worship. We must ask, “Does this lead people to Christ and His word and help them in holiness and sanctification in Christ?”

    But back to our discussion about whether God regulates the specific actions of our worship and such.

    I wonder if there is a “middle ground” here between us (moderates/conservatives and progressives).

    Yes one side argues that unless there is explicit warrant for it in Scripture, and particularly in the New Testament, we should not include it in our worship services. So, from the other side, “If it glorifies God, edifies each other, etc. and of course usually the tag line, “if Scripture doesn’t forbid it” we are free to do it in the worship service.

    I realize that it easy to present two sides of an issue as caricature and then happily suggest that your position happens to be in the middle of the two. That’s not always fair.

    But I do think there is some middle ground to be had in between the “anything goes” (as long as it’s from the heart and glorifies God and edifies each other) attitude and the “only what we see in the New Testament church goes” approach.

    So how do we decide what belongs in a worship service? Assuming we can all agree that worship should honor God, be sincere edifying, (at the very least) not contrary to God’s commands, I would prose some other questions we should ask in determining what goes into our worship services.

    What was worship like in the New Testament churches? This is the most important question to ask. Whether we can all fully agree on the principle that the New Testament means to give us a prescribed list of worship elements, but I do think surely we can find common unity and agreement that to start with, and emphasize, what we know the early did in the New Testament.

    Shouldn’t what we see in the early churches be the main things people see in our worship services? If we see across the board that teaching, praying, singing, and communion were present, let’s make those the linchpins of our services.

    Again, even if we might disagree on whether or not an element has to be in the New Testament to be in our worship, wouldn’t it be wise not to stray too far from the basic elements we see in the early church?

    Even Dan Kimball, of emerging church fame, has stated, “We can say this for sure about the worship of the early church: They came to worship the risen Jesus through song, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, and teaching.”

    Amen! That’s what we know the early church did for sure. So it makes sense to me that our services would be mainly singing, praying, communion, and teaching. Pray the Bible. Sing the Bible. Read the Bible. Preach the Bible. Sounds like a good model to me.

    That God takes the worship of Christians seriously can be seen quite clearly in 1 Corinthians 11. When the Corinthians were abusing the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34) by taking their meals before one another and some getting drunk, Paul called a halt to their unloving behavior. He pointed them to the original instruction to remember the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. Because they had failed to discern the body, some were weak and sick and others asleep spiritually. The Lord’s Supper was a corporate activity, a means of worship in the assembled church. Failure to worship properly led to spiritual disapproval before God.

    Because the Corinthian church failed to keep God’s regulations of the Lord’s Supper, Paul had to rebuke them. Paul both received and delivered instructions regulating the Lord’s Supper. These instructions were Divine traditions and were taught widely throughout the church. This shows there are indeed “patterns” in the New Testament regulating corporate worship.

    And let’s remember when we discuss the meaning of Colossians 3:16 and the issue of singing…….this passage should not be interpreted out of the context of Col. 4:16, where Paul said, “And when this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.” While the letter was written specifically to Colossae, its teaching was also meant for other churches.

    Whe see the practice of reading apostolic epistles in the public assemblies could easily be inferred from the fact that the letters are addressed to the churches as a whole. Lest there be any doubt, however, we note Paul’s commands, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren” (1 Thess. 5:27; cf. Col. 4:16).

    Again, Paul gave regulations to Timothy at Ephesus and said, “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15)

    We are told that the church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). I think these practices are more than just descriptive ‘they used to do it that way’) and are more prescriptive (‘we all ought to keep doing that, and doing it that way’).

    Paul points out that he sent Timothy to remind them of his ways which are in Christ, just as he preached everywhere in every church. . (1 Cor. 4:17; cf. 7:17)

    Paul preached the same thing in every congregation. There is no difference in the doctrine for one church and another. It is the same for all. There has to be a established which can be recognized and taught.

    Finally, I want to touch on what I think is an important verse from the Book of Hebrews in our discussing on worship.

    The book of Hebrews is particularly important here because it draws attention to the uniqueness of our worship as the New Testament people of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 states: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

    This passage directs us to two key elements for our thinking about worship: first, the character of God as the object of our worship, and second, our response to God in worship.

    God is the focus of worship. Worship should bring Glory to Him and provide for our needs. Any definition of what true worship is, must be derived from God. To be “theocentric,” worship must not come from man’s will, desires, or passions. In other words worship must be only what God has defined it to be.

    I do believe very strongly that how we worship is a reflection of our theology. Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God. Therefore, worship is, ultimately, the creation bowing before the Creator of the universe, acknowledging that He alone is worthy to receive glory and honor. (cf. Rev 4.11). Now, yes, of course, worship is also for man’s benefit and enjoyment (but not his glory!).

    What is worship? I like King David’s definition. “Oh magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Ps. 34:3 NASB). Worship is the act of magnifying God. Enlarging our vision of Him.

    So God must always stand at the heart of our worship. Worship fails utterly if God and His Son Jesus Christ is not at the center.

    Now, again, in Hebrews 12 we see that God is a holy God, one who is jealous for His worship. He is a God who stands in judgment of sin and calls for holy living among His people. Hebrews is quoting Deuteronomy 4 when it states that God is “a consuming fire.”

    Deuteronomy 4 calls the people of God to faithfulness in all of their lives, but especially in worship: “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (vv. 23-24).

    This passage in Deuteronomy clearly rests on the second of the Ten Commandments, which forbids false worship. These passages show that the Lord takes His worship very seriously—indeed worship must be in “spirit and truth.” Only such worship will be acceptable to him. (John 4:24)

    When Hebrews 12:28 speaks of acceptable worship, it means worship that is first and foremost acceptable to God.

    I believe this priority needs to be reaffirmed especially today. Because too often today when people speak of acceptable worship they mean worship that is acceptable to themselves. While worship must communicate clearly to the gathered congregation, the Bible insists that worship must above all be acceptable to God. And we must always remember that we can only know what is acceptable to God by a careful study of his Word.

    As we seek balance we must begin by remembering that corporate worship is meeting with our God, who is a consuming fire; and for that to happen, we must know God’s will for how we are to worship. That knowledge comes only through knowing His Word.

    The words of J. I. Packer are a fitting here I think on our discussion of worship:

    “In most churches, worship is in a state of transition. Both the pastor and the people know by now that worship is important and what we come to church to do. But most ministers are nervous about proposing changes to ingrained patterns and many congregations do not want to accept them. Churches are experimenting, and I feel that at times congregations are a bit bewildered and uncertain. Many times they don’t have enough criteria to determine what constitutes reverent worship of God; all they’re clear on is what helps them feel good and strengthened. I don’t think congregations have a strong corporate sense that the greatness and holiness of God is what we should be seeking above all. What will change this confusing situation is a renewal of the kind of preaching that gives congregations a strong sense of God. Here I think we need to learn from the Puritans. The strong preaching of the glory of God, of His holiness and awesomeness, will create a sense of how we ought to worship Him. I can’t see a congregation ever agreeing on how to worship unless they become united with a deeper and stronger sense of the greatness and glory of God.” (“The Challenge of the Third Millenium”)

    May we all worship and glorify the awesome God and His wonderful Son on this Lord’s Day!

    God bless,
    Robert Prater

  73. Robert:

    Before I can address the things you have asked, I need to address two things, because it affects the discussion directly.

    Over and over you not only appeal to the brotherhood to use scripture only as we decide how to live. You have even said of your own opinion:

    But my standard remains unequivocally sola Scriptura.

    It is obvious to anyone who has read enough of your posts that this is a misleading claim.

    A cursory examination of your posts shows that you spend approximately 72.3% more space quoting a non-biblical author to support your point than a biblical one. You claim biblical authority, and then use extra-biblical sources as proof. Please dispense with the quoting of men to prove that your opinions are “solo Scriptura”, or else quit making the claim.

    Your opinion is more important, anyway – not the opinion of all these scholars that you read. Although at this point, I have trouble believing that your opinion is actually yours, and not just the regurgitation of things you’ve read. The number of people that share similar beliefs with you is irrelevant to truth, of course. Rather, one man is the truth, Him being Jesus the Messiah. That’s all I’m interested in.

    So please dispense with the quoting of men, as I can most certainly prove that they were not inspired, as I can not find the books of “May”, “Kimball”, or any other “scholar” in my Bible.

    It’s also laborious to read sermon after sermon after sermon that you write as posts. If you were to meet a man whose language was different from yours, would you start with a sermon? No – first you need to find a common language to communicate from. From a conservative viewpoint you have given those progressive brothers the business! Unfortunately it was in a different language, so it didn’t matter.

    If you wish to continue dialog, step by step, little by little, I’m in. But if you wish to make questionable claims and to sermonize, then I have no time for that.

    I will post a test item. Your response will let me know if you are listening or not.

  74. Forgot to /blockquote Jay, can you fix?

  75. Robert said:

    It seems to me that some progressives are bent on circumventing the clear meaning of the Old Testament passages and warnings….

    This is a troublesome sentence in a couple of ways.

    1. “…clear meaning of the Old Testament passages…”
    Your assumption is that your ability to read and understand the Old Testament is the right way. Indeed, that is a possibility. And in fact we might even agree on the face-value meaning of the passages to the original Israelite audience.

    But it’s as if you have no regard for our differences in scriptural views when you make claims like this. You might actually be completely wrong about your interpretation. You have left no room for that possibility. It’s like speaking with authority, just without the authority part.

    If you truly understood the position that I’m coming from – and I don’t speak for progressives, just for myself – then you would not even make this statement to begin with. You would realize that I believe your conclusion about applying these situations outside of the Old Covenant for which they were designed is bogus, and approach the conversation in a different way. All you have managed to say here is “I’m not listening to you, and I’m turning the conversation back to what I know how to debate as quickly as possible.” That doesn’t encourage dialog at all.

    So, for this first point, why don’t you try restating what you think my opinion is in regards to applying Old Testament regulations, to let me know that you understand my view? And once you state it, resist the temptation to argue against it in the same breath. Do not quote any “scholars”, commentaries, or any other distracting text. Just put your understanding of what I will say about Old Testament regulations out there and let me confirm or deny that you understand it correctly first, then we will address the fallout of it.

    2. “some progressives are bent on circumventing…”
    You say “some”, but when you post, you address all. I could say, “Some conservative preachers are bent on looking at pornography,” but it would have no application to the current discussion. The only thing relevant to the discussion is what’s actually being said, not what you think “some” might be thinking – to which you have no evidence.

    If you think that my motivation is to circumvent anything that God is saying, then say so, so we can end the discussion. But if you actually think I’m trying to serve God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, then prove it by not using irrelevant blanket statements that make you appear to be not listening.

    Just like you say you want to use only the scriptures, but you quote men to make your point, here, too, we see you saying that you agree that your brothers are well-studied, thoughtful, and passionate, but then you turn around and say that “some are bent on circumventing…”. Which is it? If you actually believed what you said, you would not make such remarks.

    So, for this second point, I would like you to state for the record if you think that my motivation (and no one else’s) is to circumvent any scriptures in any way. Do not argue for or against anything, or make any other point, just “Yes, I think you are trying to circumvent one or more scriptures,” or “No, I don’t believe that you are trying to circumvent any scriptures,” or even, “I’m not sure if you are…”. But leave it at that.

    3. If you find this too constricting, then we can end this now, and not waste time. But this is the speed required for two people to process an idea in two different languages via the written word.

    If you actually want dialog, then perhaps Jay can create a new post for us to carry out the dialog in, since this one is sooooooooooo looooooooooong already.

    If you don’t really to dialog, that’s totally understandable. It will be a lot of very hard work for possibly no result. And by dialog, I mean trying to understand the other person, and why they believe what they believe. (As far as I’m concerned, debate is for those looking to win a charm contest with an audience, and rarely productive.)

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