Understanding What Is Expedient?(2) The difference in Expedients and Requirements


Jim Miller

Gray, Maine


One problem some people have is that they fail to distinguish between a practice that is sinful because they have no scriptural authority and a practice that is a simple expedient that only differs from what most other congregations use.

We established in our last article that it would not be an expedient to have the Lords Supper on any other day than the first day of the week because it is not authorized by scripture to do so.

However, Lets say that a congregation wants to meet for Bible study on Tuesday night instead of Wednesday. So congregation (A) starts meeting on Tuesday because more of its members can be present. Some may think this is not the norm and not allowed, yet there is nothing wrong it, it is simply more expedient for congregation (A) and benefits all its members.

Now lets say congregation (B) says we are only going to offer the Lords supper every second Sunday and they start this new practice. Congregation (B) is now sinning.

Both congregation (A) and congregation (B) are doing things different from what we consider the norm. But, congregation (B) is sinning because they are breaking the command to partake the Lords Supper EVERY first day of the week while congregation (A) is not. Congregation (A) is simply using an expedient even though it isn't the norm. Congregation (B) sins because it goes beyond what is written.

Now if I haven't totally confused you lets look at another example. Lets say that congregation (C) wants to have an evening devoted to singing on every third Wednesday night, and congregation (D) chooses to devote the fourth Wednesday night to a prayer service. We would not have a problem with congregation (C) because it has been a practice among congregations for a long time and is accepted. However, congregation (D) often times has to defend itself because the practice of prayer meetings has almost ceased in the churchs over the years. In reality both congregation (C) and (D) are within authority and using a simple expedient.

The problem we have today is there are many among us who want to make things expedient that are not authorized.

For example there is the age old fight over instrumental music. Though not being authorized some still try to call this an expedient. Personally I have no problem with using expedients. However, we must remember if a thing is not lawful it can not be expedient or have an expedient.

I remember reading many years ago where members of a large congregation wanted to use an overhead projector as an aid in teaching. Yet the elders refused for no real reason. There was also about this same time a congregation who wanted to change the Sunday evening meeting time for the reason that more of the members could attend. In this case several members threatened to leave. The list goes on and on because of lack of understanding.

Where as many years ago these folks were worried about using an expedient because they were not used to such, today there are those who go way too far the other way trying to justify their own desires through the use an unauthorized action calling it an expediency.

Because of all the confusion it bears repeating just what an expedient is, and what its relation is to practices the Lord has required, whether by direct statement or command, by apostolic example, or by implication of these. Basically, an expedient is an advantageous or profitable method of carrying out the Lord's directions.

We are commanded to assemble on the first day of the week, there is no specific time given, so one church may choose to meet starting at 9 a.m., and another may choose to start at 11 a.m…. So, each congregation examines its own situation, then determines what time of the day, on Sunday, it would be most spiritually profitable to assemble. The time here is the expediency and either church may meet lawfully at their given times.

One important key point is this: local church expedients are just that – local in nature. If Church (A) determines it is expedient to meet on Tuesday night rather than on Wednesday night, other congregations may not agree – and they may even discuss why Wednesday night would be more expedient. However, they must not treat Church (A) as not being sound or as being "liberal" simply because it uses an expedient not used by all other churches.

Today some congregations want to start a practice of hand clapping calling it an expedient when clearly there is NO authority for doing so. Others would have us believe that these so called praise teams, which are nothing more than glorified entertainment, are an expedient. Those who would make something expedient to justify their own desires must learn to respect the silence of God’s word. God's silence more often than not prohibits actions rather than permitting them.

Clapping would be akin to a percussion instrument, like a drum, there for it is unauthorized because all we are instructed to do is sing Eph_5:19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

A specific statement or example excludes those things which are not specified
Numbers 24:12,13 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying, [
13] If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak? Also see Revelation 22:18,19. We must learn to respect the silence of God’s word. So if God specifies how or what he requiers us to do, or the method by which we are to obey, we are limited to what he says.

We will conclude our study on expediency in part 3 coming in June. Till then may God bless.


End Notes: All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

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Author: jfm

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