Where the Bible is Silent (Part 7)
Let us close this series of lessons by considering:

I have heard the following affirmed by many well-meaning Christians: "To specify is to exclude." They believe that when something is authorized specifically in Scripture, everything else is automatically forbidden. Although I believe the conclusion arrived at by this type of thinking is often correct, the process of reasoning used is flawed.

Let me elaborate on this with an example regarding the use of mechanical instruments of music in Christian worship. Many are quick to state: "Since singing is specifically commanded in the New Testament, then playing an instrument is forbidden. To specify is to exclude!" No friends, that rationale is flawed. Don't misunderstand--I agree with the conclusion but arrive at it in a much different way. Mechanical instruments of music in Christian worship are forbidden, not because singing is specified but because they simply aren't authorized! The New Testament is silent about them, and we have shown previously that Bible silence forbids.

When we consider the passages in the New Testament that deal with music in worship, we see that they mention singing over and over again (e.g., Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; I Cor. 14:15; etc.). None of these verses, in and of themselves, exclude the use of mechanical instruments in the assembly. Why not? Simply because what is declared in these verses would not have prevented the Holy Spirit from revealing a passage elsewhere in the New Testament granting authority for mechanical instruments of music--had He desired such. Evidently, God did not desire such and thus was purposefully silent on the matter. Thus, it is only when we consider the whole of the New Testament (not just a verse here or there that specifies a particular action) and find that nothing anywhere is said about mechanical instruments of music in worship that we can know that such are not authorized and are therefore forbidden.

To specify does not exclude, as is seen when considering this same subject in the Old Testament. Psalm 68:32 very clearly authorizes singing under the Mosaic regime. Specifying singing here in this passage did not exclude the appropriateness of playing an instrument in worship under the Old Law as can be shown from Psalm 150. Although the New Testament is silent about such instruments (for Christian worship), the Jews of old were authorized to use them. Old Testament verses that authorized them to sing did not exclude them from playing, and the New Testament verses that authorize us to sing do not exclude playing. What excludes us playing them in worship today is that they are simply not authorized anywhere in the New Covenant.

Another common fallacy regarding implication is sometimes presented like this: "God will not allow you to bind conclusions on others that you have arrived at by inference and deduction." Dear listeners, that's just not true! To those who affirm such I would ask: "Where did you come up with this teaching? Since it is not explicitly stated in the Scriptures, did you not use inference and deduction to arrive at your conclusion--a conclusion which you are now trying to bind on me?" One cannot use implication to rail against implication without contradicting himself!

Some who are resistant to the truths presented in this series of lessons are quick to quote Thomas Campbell, who once stated: "Although inferences and deductions from Scripture premises, when fairly inferred, may be truly called the doctrine of God's holy word, yet they are not formally binding..." Friends, I believe Thomas Campbell was mistaken on this. If something is rightly called Bible doctrine and is applicable today, then it most certainly is binding today. The Bible authorizes both explicitly and implicitly. Let's affirm and perpetuate statement of truth, but not statements of error--no matter who may have uttered them. The Campbells are not our standard, God's word is. Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent. In other words, let us practice that which the Bible authorizes and decline to practice that which the Bible doesn't authorize for us today. Our beliefs and practices must stop where the revelation of God's word stops. This is how we walk by faith, and this is the only sure way to please Almighty God!