How We Learn From The Bible
Part Five


The word "expedient" appears several times in the New Testament. As a noun, it has the basic meaning of "advantage." When Jesus spoke of restrictions on divorce and remarriage, his disciples concluded: "If the case is so with a man and his wife, it is expedient (to his advantage) not to marry" - Matt. 19:10. Normally it is used to state what is best or better in decisions on what to do or not do - John 11:50; 18:4; 2 Corl 8:10, etc.

Paul wrote, "All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any" - 1 Cor. 6:12. Expediency in doing what God authorizes must always be "in the faith" of our Lord - Rev. 14:12. Nothing can be expedient that is not done in execution of what the Lord has authorized.

Since the scriptures recognize expedient actions in either doing or not doing what God authorizes, a proper application of the principle includes only things not mentioned that are advantageous in doing what the Lord commands. The authority for expedients inheres in the command they are helpful and best in carrying out.

We have learned that the Lord authorized his people to come together and break bread as a memorial to his death and suffering - Matt. 26:26-27. To the Corinthian church Paul delivered the command given by Jesus to "do this in memory of me" - 1 Cor. 11:23-24. There is an approved apostolic example that they did this "on the first day of the week" - Acts 20:7. Since they were to repeat this - 1 Cor. 11:26, and every week has a first day, it is necessarily concluded that the observance is done every first day of the week.

The time of day for observing the memorial is a matter of choice. Here is where we apply expediency. The time best suited or most appropriate is a matter of expediency. It is not definite that the church at Troas observed it late on Sunday evening. What we know is that they assembled on the first day of the week to break bread. The church in Jerusalem, on the day it came into being, "broke bread" - Acts 2:42. No time of day is indicated. It was after about 3,000 people were baptized for the remission of their sins.

That the church at Troas came together "to break bread." We can safely conclude they did so. When they did it is not relevant. It may have been expedient for some in the early church to meet early in the morning. Some of them were owned by slave masters who expected them to go to work on Sunday. It makes no difference what time the church observes the Lord's Supper as long as it is done on the first day of the week.

The command given to the church to teach is exemplified by the words of Paul to the church at Thessalonica. He commended them in that, "from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything" - 1 Thess 1:8. "Every place" is all inclusive. There is no specific day to which the congregation of Christ's people are limited in teaching.

In discussion with those who believe all teaching done by a local church must be confined to "one undivided assembly," it has been countered that there is no wrong place to teach the Bible. If so, where would it be? The early church did it in a Jewish temple. Paul did it in their synagogues and schools. A local congregation may choose to have separate Bible classes any time or any day. So long as nothing but truth is taught, so long as the result of the local church's action is simply teaching, any method of teaching is an authorized expedient.

There are specific methods God has given. God specifies that those with the capacity of hearing, believing, and repenting of their sins are the only ones who are subjects of water baptism. There is no authority to baptize infants or those who cannot reason. Therefore sprinkling or pouring water on a candidate cannot be expedient.

The only music mentioned in connection with New Testament worship is vocal music -- singing - Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:15-16; Rom. 15:9; Heb. 2:12; James 5:13. The use of song books adds nothing to the authorized action, singing. Whatever is done when a congregation sings together, when the result is nothing but singing, whatever is used to assist in the singing comes under the authority to sing.

By Dudley Ross Spears

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