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Robert McCurley | Greenville, South Carolina
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Greenville Presbyterian Church
400 East Main Street
Taylors, SC 29687
P.O. Box 295
Taylors, SC 29687
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Robert McCurley
2,484 sermons
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Musical Instruments in Worship
1/14/2007 (SUN)
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Robert McCurley
Musical Instruments in Worship

2 Chronicles 29:25-29;...
Sunday Afternoon
Greenville Presbyterian Church
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Robert McCurley
Musical Instruments in Worship

Greenville Presbyterian Church
Sunday Afternoon
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  If you were blessed by this message, please add your comment ...
David and Karen Biser (3/5/2018)
from Cumberland, MD
“ Great Sermon! ”
Thank you for this excellent sermon! It may be a point of interest that as a homeschool field trip, we once went with a Jewish acquaintance to a synagogue service, and they sang the psalms without musical instruments. It was a sad and very instructive experience because one could very much feel that their house was, in deed, left unto them desolate. We had no sense at all that the Spirit of God was among them; very different than in Christian assemblies, although some of them seemed fervent in their devotion. How we should pray for the in-gathering of the Jews!

B. McCausland (1/18/2015)
“ Our high priest ”
Thanks. Surely, the Priesthood of Christ ALONE replaces the Old covenant rituals. He made possible the new priesthood unto God abolishing the old order. "he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man," Eph 2:14-15 In this I trust, and probably you too. May God be blessed.

basil (1/18/2015)
from ireland
“ Great Sermon! ”
Good sermon I agree with all said ,except the preacher address God in prayer as you ,when it should be thee and thou .Respect for who you are speaking too .

Mark FitzpatrickContact via email (1/17/2015)
from Dublin, Ireland
“ Final response to Mr McCausland ”
The Priesthood of believers does not "override" the OT priesthood. The Priesthood of Christ ALONE replaces the Old covenant rituals! Our "Priesthood" only has meaning in its relationship to His unique role! If you were right on this then not only would that mean all believers could use instruments in worship but also that no-one would have the right to stop them doing so! I believe you need to think this one over dear brother. On the point of Miriam, I don't think we she use her as an example or we might end up in trouble! May the Lord guide us all into His truth more and more for His own glory and honour. M.

B. McCausland (1/17/2015)
“ Answer B to Mr Fitzpatrick's response ”
The flowing of ‘rivers of water’ Jesus mentioned, speaking of the indwelling Spirit, with all the traits involved of joy, peace, etc, gently derive in the epistles as ‘making melody in our hearts unto the Lord” in the context of personal devotion. What it is in the heart it comes out. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Math. 12:34 Because of this, there seem no reason why it cannot flow along this melody in the heart external instrumental harmony. Technically speaking in music, a melody is always, audibly or not, supported by some sort of a harmony. Instrumental accompaniment in singing seems a non-questionable and non-condemned practice throughout the Psalms. Also it appears the obvious explanation regarding Miriam’s singing praise with her timbrel at the Red Sea. Ex.15:20-21. We do not hear of Miriam being reproved for this. Believing enough evidence has been provided for either view of the topic in question, there should not be need for further insistence, unless a new wing of understanding is required. “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows”. Rom. 14:22

B. McCausland (1/17/2015)
“ Answer A to Mr Fitzpatrick's response ”
Brother, I believe in the universal priesthood of the believers. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; Rev. 1:5. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:“ I Peter 2:9. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” I Peter 2:5 This priesthood over rides the types and settings of the ceremonial priesthood in the OT. In the light of this, the questions presented appear none existent in my understanding.

Mark FitzpatrickContact via email (1/16/2015)
from Dublin, Ireland
“ Response ”
Thank you Mr McCausland for your kind and clear response. Indeed there is as you refer to an antecedent of instrumental worship in the OT. But along with this are clear rules of who are to be the instrumentalists, the Priests and Levites. Also there is a clear connection with the Tabernacle and the sacrifices. There is silence with regard to instruments in the NT and the place to make melody is in the heart! Your position raises these obvious questions. Who are authorized to play? Who decides? What instruments etc? The Abolishing of the Temple, its sacrifice, worship and the Priesthood demands the ending of all their exclusive ministry which includes instruments in the worship of God. Sincerely, MF.

B. McCauslandContact via email (1/15/2015)
“ Mark Fitzpatrick ”
Thank you, Sir. The adding of water would openly contradict or violate the teaching of Christ and Paul in Scripture where only two elements were established for the Lord's Table. This should be considered as adding to Scripture, with no antecedent. However, we can perceive an antecedent of the use of instruments in personal worship in the Psalms. Perhaps you could kindly help me in this, but I do not perceive an open contradiction otherwise. I would be pleased to have your aid in this. Without wishing to be contentious, comments presented aim to check or expand mutual understanding. I am concerned about the use of instruments as much as you would perhaps, but for different reasons. Perceiving a potential risk of detraction from simple devotion in worship, and coming from a different angle, I suggest different arguments, than the ones presented in R. McCurley's circles. I trust this eases your miss-givings. I would willingly answer further personal queries at the address provided above.

Mark FitzpatrickContact via email (1/15/2015)
from Dublin, Ireland
“ A question for Mr McCausland ”
Would it be acceptable to add a third element to the Lord's Table like the Roman church in the adding of water? If not, Why not? Note, there is no prohibition in scripture to the adding of something else to the Lord's Table!

B. McCausland (1/12/2015)
“ Ethical consideration ”
Instrumental music can be compared to the use of fire. With lawful, matured, and controlled use and setting, it might have a place and value; in the hands of lawless, self-willed, or irresponsible individuals it becomes a sensual detrimental factor.

B. McCausland (1/12/2015)
“ Historical remarks ”
Aesthetic values are not fully present in societies unless basic needs are mastered, or intellectual, and ritual emancipation is achieved. Due to man’s fallen nature, matters regarding music, life-style and clothing have seemed better handled throughout history, when eliminating risks of temptation, misuse, or abuse. Such has been the case regarding monasticism, celibacy, hermit habits, Puritan plain clothing, and perhaps unaccompanied singing in worship. The Reformers abhorred organ music out of repulsive connotations with the apostasy and miss practices of Rome. Denunciations against instruments in worship throughout history, either from the early Church Fathers to the late Puritans, exist on the grounds of serious commitment to purity, exception to worldliness, or in the context of mysticism.

B. McCausland (1/12/2015)
“ Theological comment ”
The theological arguments presented seem encaged by a particular biblical interpretation. If something is not ‘prescribed’ in Scripture, it should not be permissible when it contradicts, compromises, enslaves or detracts biblical value. With the antecedent of instruments in personal worship in the Psalms, the practice may correlate into collective praise in the NT context if wished to, though fully aware of the risks involved and of the fact that genuine worship never relies on external props. Differentiation between public and collective worship is subject to definitions of worship.

Elder Thomas Ray FloydContact via email (1/11/2015)
from Mendenhall, Mississippi
“ Great Sermon! ”
Dear Brother McCurley, We thoroughly enjoyed this message. It is the TRUTH! May the Lord open the eyes of His people to see the important truths you bring forth in this message.

BWS (1/11/2015)
“ Great Sermon! ”
The sermon thoughtfully answers the objections most common, especially that the Psalms extol instruments but which only belonged to Jewish worship before Christ's coming as part of the types and shadow elements clearly abolished per the book of Hebrews and contrary to New Testament church worship. Also it is the 'beauty of holiness' and not a sensual beauty that is instructed for worship, as the sermon explains as well.

B. McCauslandContact via email (1/5/2015)
from Northern Ireland
“ Personal observations 3 ”
On the other hand, the use of instruments in worship in the Psalms is well established. See Psalm 33:2 “Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings” or 71:22 “I will also praise thee with the psaltery, … O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.” 150:3-6 “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp etc…”. Of course we should not think that we create music to ‘delight’ “appease” or ‘amuse’ God, or ourselves. We create music to honour him by reflecting in the music his holy character out of a sanctified vessel. Either using instrumental or vocal music, we may end exalting Him, or extolling man’s fallen state.

B. McCauslandContact via email (1/5/2015)
from Northern Ireland
“ Personal observations 2 ”
To distinguish non-valid music in worship from the valid, instrumental or vocal, one should identify the appeal it creates. Valid music, instrumental or vocal, should appeal to the spirit, not to bodily-based senses. It should reflect the attributes of God, not base, lower feelings pointing to the flesh, as sensuality, or contempt for example. Not all music produced is amoral. There is bad music and good music, which it does not come defined by preference, taste, style, or culture. To illustrate the proper use of instruments in worship, let’s single out the Halleluiah Chorus in Handle’s Messiah. If one takes away the underlying orchestration, the piece becomes conspicuously poorer, shorn significantly from the Christ-exalting vitality it conveys. The instruments lay a substratum to the content, supporting, embracing and enhancing devotion, accordingly to the mode of the theme in question. This is what correct instrumentation should do. Surely, either, instrumentalists of vocalists can rob spiritual value, and draw attention towards themselves, in particular when motivation in the heart runs amiss. Correct musicianship in worship demands extreme godliness.

B. McCauslandContact via email (1/5/2015)
from Northern Ireland
“ Personal observations ”
There are commendable points in BWS’s comment. However, one wonders if there is a need to so drastically, (or per-norm) strip the worship of God from all aesthetics, which by the way, belong to God by creation. “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”. The worshipping of God in holiness may include beyond the beauty of a quite pure heart’s devotion, or beyond the sound made with human throats backed by inner, sincere adoration. As with any other good thing, music, instrumental or vocal, can be misused and abused. One can sing polyphony a cappella to point towards self, or sing, unaccompanied a contemporary/pop-style piece or a spiritual-negro-styled song, to promote sensuality, promiscuity or ego pleasing. Let us be aware that not only instruments can induce base traits. Yes, instrumental music can easily detract, distract and deviate the senses, stimulating the flesh rather than enhancing the spirit, no doubt. But so is proud preaching, prayer, or any other self-centred practice. (For instance, excessively ornamented, luxurious places of worship, platform lightening, or stage-like-built meetinghouses, might endear a selfish ‘good feeling factor’ to a congregation).

BWS (1/4/2015)
“ Powerful message, instruments in church worship? ”
This is a powerful and practical message challenging the tradition, and increasing variety, of the use of musical instruments in church worship. Truly what is esteemed (and excused) among men is error and arrogance before God when the holy light of Scripture shines on it. If the truth be told instruments are used to get the youth involved or to please popular sentiment, not merely to accompany or aid worship, but to enhance and attract others to come to church. Especially now among churches claiming to be reformed instruments are on the increase from massive pipe organs to bands or string ensembles in the face of the 2nd command and regulative principle they claim to follow! Gill and Spurgeon as well as Puritans and Presbyterians of history all condemned it as a mark of popery or apostasy, not conservative but liberal error!

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  Robert McCurley
Rev. Robert McCurley was educated at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and ordained to the gospel ministry in 1998. He is a minister of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), at Greenville Presbyterian Church, Greenville, South Carolina. He is an editor of The...

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