OceanSide church of Christ

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The Silence of the Scriptures
by: Dalton Gilreath

The silence of the scriptures has reference to anything the Bible does not directly reference as wrong. In other words, there is no text specifically forbidding a particular action. For example, the New Testament does not expressly forbid the use of instruments of music. Therefore, many would suggest it is permissible to use said instruments in worship to God. Upon further study, however, the Bible clearly emphasizes the need to respect the silence of the scriptures. If the religious world came to this understanding then evangelizing the Gospel would become much easier.

Consider these well-known Old Testament examples. Nadab and Abihu chose to burn incense with a “strange fire” the Lord had not commanded them specifically to use (Lev 10:1-2). In verse two the Bible says fire came from Heaven and destroyed them. Why would God kill these two men for doing something He didn’t expressly tell them not to do? Clearly, God expects His people to do exactly what He says and thereby respect His silence regarding any other way of doing it.

Another example would be David’s nephew, Uzzah. The Levites had been told to carry the ark of God by poles on their shoulders (Ex 25:13-15, cf. Deut 10:8). However, when Israel got the ark of God back from Philistine hands, David instructed the people to carry it on a cart (2 Samuel 6:2-3). When the ark began to slip off the cart Uzzah reached to steady it and immediately died (6:7). Why did God take his life? Some would say it was simply because Uzzah had touched the ark (Num 4:15). Yet, David knew there was more to it (1 Chr 15:13-15). They had not respected the silence of the scriptures in carrying the ark of God on the cart instead of their shoulders. God didn’t have to tell them every way not to carry it. He simple needed to tell them the way He wanted it done.

In contrast, today Christians are under the New Testament. Are there any texts that mention respecting the silence of the text under Christ’s Law? Paul tells the church at Corinth “not to go beyond the things which are written” (1 Cor 4:6 ASV). Furthermore, John tells Christians that anyone who “goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 9). Certainly many other passages could be references as well (see Hebrews 7:14). That fact is, God requires a respect for the silence of the scriptures today as much as He did under the Old Law. Christians should stick to the wise old saying, “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent”. There are many “religious” people who might better appreciate the Lord’s church and His saving message if they learned to also appreciate the silence of God’s Word.