[color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]Total respect for God's Word demands more than many are willing to give. We must study, perceive and accept the authority of God's silence. He does not have to say "thou shalt not" in order to prohibit a thing. Failure to recognize or accept this principle has been one of the fundamental underlying causes of our religious differences. Some of those who went before us recognized the importance of this principle.
"It is evident that whatever God has not commanded and has not instituted by express commands of Scripture He does not want observed nor does He want to be served therewith, nor will He have His Word set aside nor made to suit the pleasure of men." This was written by Dirk Phillips in the 16th century, in his book Vindication. (Quoted by J.D. Murch, Christians Only, p. 15).
That there is such a principle is clearly stated in I Corinthians 4:6 where Paul writes that "ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written" (ASV). We see it applied in at least three instances:
<ol>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]In Acts 15:1 we read of certain brethren who taught circumcision as a Christian doctrine and insisted on its observance. The Apostles and elders wrote the brethren concerning this practice, "We have heard that certain (men) who went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls; to whom we gave no commandment" (Acts 15:24). They proceeded to repudiate the actions of those certain men. Even though circumcision had been commanded under the Old Covenant, it could not be bound upon the church since no commandment concerning it had been given.[/color]
</li>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]In establishing the superiority of Christ over angels, the author of Hebrews writes, "having become by so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son" (Heb. 1:5). The very fact that God had not said to one of the angels these words, which he spoke to the Son, is proof of their inferiority to Christ.[/color]
</li>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]While explaining the need for the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ, the writer says, "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are said belongeth to another tribe, from which no man hath given attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah: as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests." (Heb. 7:12-14).[/color]
</li>[/list][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]If we do not respect the sacred silence of God's word, then no one can object to infant baptism or sprinkling, counting beads, burning of incense and a thousand other things that God did not specifically forbid, being introduced into the faith and worship of the church. The concept that "I can do anything God does not forbid" in Christian worship lets in an avalanche that few are ready to accept. See also Leviticus 10:1-3 where Nadab and Abihu violated this law by offering strange fire. God had not specifically forbidden the use of their fire by a positive command. However, it was forbidden since He had specified that they were to use the fire from the perpetual fire on the great altar before the tabernacle for incense (Lev. 16:12).
It is the silence of the New Testament authorizing instrumental music in worship that leads us to reject that practice and other like additions to our faith and worship. J.D. Murch comments on this theme: "Within the last generation the Church of Christ has made a phenomenal growth. This is due to two things:[/color]
<ol>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]Its people have stood like a Rock of Gibraltar for `the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,' amid the doubt and confusion super induced by liberalism. They have challenged the spirit of compromise, and worldliness, and dared, to be a `peculiar' people teaching and practicing what they believe is the Bible way of life.[/color]
</li>[*][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]They have come to realize that the silence of the Scriptures must be respected as well as the commandments of Scripture, but that obedience to its silences permits freedom of judgment and action" (Ibid. p. 313)[/color]
</li>[/list][color=#0000FF" size="3" face="times]Sadly, few contemporary Christians understand the significance of the "silence of the Scriptures." Every leader and teacher should familiarize himself with this great principle that his own faith might be strong, and that he might also teach others. When a generation grows up that does not know this principle of truth, they may well reason like Martin Luther, "I can do anything the Bible does not specifically forbid." Look where that approach has led Luther's followers. Woe to the church when that day comes. [/color]
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now