No musical instruments are to be used during worship. But we ask that thought in question form. In our song worship, is it permissible for one to clap? But first, we must understand that what God commands is what we must do. So, in Ephesians 5:19, NASB, singing, and singing only, is commanded. There are no instruments of music commanded for worship. We find the same in Colossians 3:16, NASB.
We sing because that’s what God commanded. We don’t use instruments because God didn’t give us the freedom to do so. To do as the first-century church did is God approved. How do we know this? Because it’s in the Bible, and the Bible is inspired by God, 2 Timothy 3:16, NASB. The early church met on the first day of the week to remember Jesus, and in doing so, they sang psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
So then, is clapping considered an instrumental accompaniment? Some contend that the pitch pipe is an instrument, and if one can be used, then all instruments may be used. However, a pitch pipe is an aid in getting the starting pitch of the song. It adds nothing to the singing – it’s not used during a song. It’s only an aid to carry out God’s command to sing.
In the same way, a songbook is also an aid – it’s not an additional element in worship. Songbooks do not add any sound to the worship.
Clapping, however, adds a percussive sound to the songs. Take away the singing and what’s left is only the sound of hands clapping in rhythm. So then, can we say clapping sends intelligible praise from our hearts? No. Is clapping the same as vocalizing a song? Well, no. Clapping doesn’t do that. Does clapping send admonishment our way, a la Colossians 3:16, NASB? Certainly not. There is no admonition given in clapping. Frankly, it’s merely noise. According to Ephesians 5:19, NASB, and Colossians 3:16, NASB, singing involves teaching, admonishment, and praise. The songs of the heart are given as songs to the Lord. Clapping gives no intelligible praise, voice, or thought to a song.
What are we authorized to do in the song service? We are Biblically authorized to sing. We are not authorized to make noise. When we consider the New Testament, we see no authority for instrumental music. There’s no authority for dancing, clapping, rolling around on the floor, jumping, shouting, a-Hooten and a-hollering’. We speak where the Bible speaks.
Doing anything other than singing is something different than the Bible. And we know Scripture came through the Holy Spirit by the Lord. So, to give worship as our Lord wants is our ardent service.