Understanding What Is Expedient? (Part 3)

Jim Miller

Gray, Maine

So what have we learned so far? We have established that we must have authority for the things we do in order for it to be pleasing God; that there are two types of authority (General and Specific). We have learned that anything we want to consider as expedient must be lawful, and that just because something is lawful doesn’t always make a thing expedient. We have pointed out that there is a difference in “expedients” and “requirements.” Lastly, we want to look at the difference between a true expedient and what man wants to call expedient, and show the proper and improper use of the word.

First let us look again at what a proper expedient is. We are told to go preach the Gospel: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).1 We are told to “GO,” but not how to “GO.” So, an expedient to this command would be walking, riding a horse, a bicycle, a car, etc. These things expedite going and preaching. They do not add to or take away from the command to “go.”

Today there are those among us who misuse the meaning of expedient to justify things they want to add to worship, and things that the church may do, so we have to be careful not to allow this abuse to creep in among us. Let us take a simple example: We can all agree we are instructed to sing, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). An expedient to singing would be a song leader to assist in keeping our worship in order. Another expedient would be a song book so that those who may not know the words can participate in the singing, and so that everyone is singing the same song. There are, however, those who say that we want to clap or stomp or dance around for joy while singing, so they call these things expedient, because it expresses joy according to what they choose to believe. The fact is that there is no authority given in the pattern laid out in Scripture by God for these things to be lawful or acceptable. Some among us fail to realize that if God set a pattern, He has expressed exactly what He wants from us. To change this pattern is a sin. I will quote here, from the past, from a dear brother, Forest Moyer. In an article I read many years ago he stated the following:

1. God’s teaching, whether to the individual or to the congregation, authorizes everything that is necessary to obedience to the command. For example, we realize that the command to baptize authorizes water in which to baptize. The command to assemble authorizes a place of assembly. The command to sing authorizes the words that we sing.

2. May I suggest that there is no such thing as a ‘law of expediency?’ There are expedients because there is law. Where there is no law, there can be no expedients.

a. The Bible is not ‘silent’ regarding the words of a song – it authorizes them whether written in a book or projected on a screen. The expedient is authorized by a Bible command.

b. The Bible is not ‘silent’ regarding a place of assembly – it authorizes a place of assembly by the command to assemble and by the fact that early Christians assembled in ‘places.’

c. The Bible is not ‘silent’ regarding a congregation’s ‘means’ of giving aid to the saints in need. There are adequate examples of this in the practice of the early church. It is silent concerning another organization’s receiving contributions from churches to do this work for the churches.

3. Thus, general authority includes the ways and means of obeying the command (understanding that these ways and means do not violate God’s order).

We cannot use the idea of expediency in any area that violates an order of God. For example, we might reason that it is expedient in our society today for women to preach or lead in public prayer. They might be quite effective in doing so. Yet, such would violate an established order of God as stated in 1 Tim. 2:8-12.

Friends, we must first make sure anything we want to do is authorized by Scripture. It is fast becoming clear that there are those among us who want to play fast and loose with the word of God. We, as the Christian soldiers of the world, must stand against them and demand the truth be taught and applied. I hope I have shed a bright light on this subject for you, and that you now have a better understanding of what an expedient is, and how it is to be applied.

May God Bless you all.

1All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.


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Author: jfm

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