Lucia's Blog
Google Logo
Image Caption goes here.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, July 29, 2019

IS ONE CHURCH AS GOOD AS ANOTHER?

"And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.'"  
Ephesians 1:22-23


Churches that claim Jesus as Lord come in a great variety of sizes, flavors, and beliefs. Church attendance in our country can be from occasional to every time the doors are opened, but if one is really trying to please our Lord, he needs to consider that it really does matter what church he worships with.

Why are we so careful in physical matters and so careless or slack in spiritual matters?  Is one wife as good as another? Is one medical doctor as good as another? If you're traveling to a specific destination, is one road just as good as another? Is each companion in life as good as another? Is catching a bus, plane, or train as good as another? Is each medicine as good as another? You will likely answer “no” to these questions. Again, why is it that we’re so careful about material matters and at the same time so careless about the spiritual ones? Sadly, many people don’t see the need to be cautious about choosing a “church.” For many, all churches are of equal value, so it does not matter. There is little or no difference between the ones they must choose from, as long as they are recognized churches. But, is it true that one church is as good as another? What do you think?  Surely our souls are valuable enough to be worthy of our concern about their eternal destiny.

We live in a religiously divided world that causes us to be concerned, sad, and frustrated.  It is frustrating and sad when one strives to reason for hours with someone about the Scriptures whose prejudices and preconceived notions are too strong to allow a heart receptive to God's Truth.  It is also frustrating when we're unable to break the stalemate that results when people seek to justify remaining in error, saying, “Well, when all is said and done, it really doesn’t make any difference, for one church is as good as another.”  They claim that one church is just as good as another, but refuse to give us any Scriptural proof or defense to support their claim.  Have you ever wondered why there are so many denominations in the religious world, claiming to be "churches that belong to Christ"?   My question is, “If there is only one God, one Lord Jesus Christ, and only one Bible, why is it then that there are so many denominations and so much religious error?”  You see most of these religious groups have their own man-made form of doctrines and traditions that are peculiar to each particular denominationThey willingly ignore that the Word of God strictly condemns many of their practices.  They complain that it is impossible for us to believe and teach the things that God has precisely commanded us to follow and thus, unnecessary.  Do they not know that Jesus built and has only one church!

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, the apostle Paul said,
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now, this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"

I wonder if each denomination were to reject each of their erroneous and man-made doctrines and traditions to follow only the New Testament pattern for the church as well as their faith, how many confessions would there be? The answer is only one!  So why is it so hard for them to obey 1 Corinthians 1:10-13?  When one challenges them to support their position about not following the New Testament pattern for the church as ordained by the Lord Himself,  they ask, "Why should we go back to the Bible pattern?"   Evidently, with this kind of answer or belief, they are claiming that it does not matter if we violate God's ordained divine pattern to satisfy their traditions.  Some don't even care or try to make an effort to show or prove with the Bible such practices or their denominational organization found and approved in the New Testament.  To them, it really doesn't make any difference.  Amazing!  The truth is it does make a big difference with God!


I.   IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE:

The only question at stake here is, Why is it so critical to follow only the New Testament pattern for the church as ordained by the Lord? To understand this critical question, it is crucial that we first acknowledge that the Word of God will be our Judge on that final day.  We will be judged for eternity according to what it is written in the New Testament, the Law of Christ.  Jesus said,
"He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."  (John 12:48
The teaching of the New Testament is the Message of Jesus Christ, the Gospel.   And though Jesus did not teach all things while he was here on earth, He left His inspired apostles and prophets to write His words after he ascended to heaven. The Old Testament was written at the direction of the Holy Spirit.
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21)
So, the New Testament was also given by the Holy Spirit.
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come."  (John 16:12-13)
Do we really believe this?


II.   SO WHAT DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT HAVE TO SAY ON THE MATTER
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One God is as Good as Another: 
"One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."  (Ephesians 4:6)
So, is one God as good as another?  Different religions have different godsSo, are we free to choose the "god" we like?  Would the One and only true God be pleased with any other "god" we choose?  No, one God is not as good as another!  Take, for instance, Buddhism and Buddha, Islam and Allah, which are two different religions with two very different “gods.” Yet in the New Testament, we see that there is but “One God” (Ephesians 4:6). The truth is that since God does make a difference, then one church is not as good as another. To get the answer to this question, it is vital that we go to the only source of truth, the Word of God and read  1 Corinthians 8:5,6; Ephesians 4:4-6; Acts 17:22-31. No, one God is not as good as another!
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless They Both Believe in Christ as The “Only Begotten Son” of God:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."  (John 3:16
"Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him."  (1 John 4:9)
So not every church is as good as others. Why?  Simply because not all churches believe that Jesus is the “only begotten” Son of God.  In John 8:24, Jesus gave us an absolute warning about this.
“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” 

You see faith in the Sonship of Christ is not optional! Hence, any church that fails to believe in Jesus as the “only begotten” Son of God, His Sonship and Lordship, such a church fails to be as good as the one that has such faith in the Son of God.
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Founder is as Good as Another:
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  (Matthew 16:18-19)
One church is not as good as another church unless One Founder is as good as another.  Different men or groups of men have built different churches.  Jesus Christ is the builder of His Own church.  Read Matthew 16:18,19; 1 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 127:1; Matthew 15:13. Most religious organizations that exist today have different founders. But the true church that we read of in the New Testament was founded by Jesus (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:11). The church founded by Jesus is 100 times better than one that has been founded by another man (Psalm 127:1; 1 Timothy 3:15). These religious organizations can only turn to man for their point of origin, and thus they shall be rooted up, while the one planted by our Lord Christ will stand the test of time for all eternity (Matthew 15:13).
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless The Blood of Christ is Unimportant: 
"Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood."  (Acts 20:28)
So one blood is not as good as another. We learn from Acts 20:28 that the church was purchased with Christ's blood. Christians have been washed in Christ's blood (Revelation 1:5).  A church which cost Jesus nothing is not as good as the one that cost Him His life. Do you think Jesus was a fool? 
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless Churches That Are Not Mentioned in the Bible Are as Good as The One Spoken of in The New Testament:
 In Romans 16:16, Paul addresses local churches in his greetings, saying, “All the churches of Christ greet you.” Thus, those churches that call themselves by other names, names that are not mentioned in the New Testament, indeed are not as good as the ones that are mentioned.
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Head is as Good as Another:
"And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.'"  (Ephesians 1:22-23)

So one Head is not as good as another.  Jesus is the one and only Head of His body, the church (Ephesians 1:22,23; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). Other churches have other men (or women) as their heads. Consider the claims of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the Pope.  The Pope’s teachings and decrees are equal to the Bible in authority.  The Pope became the “Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ and the ‘visible’ Head of the Roman Catholic Church.”  Eventually, his authority became supreme in all matters of faith and morals as head of the church.  Without a doubt, Catholics have placed authority in the wrong places.  Why? 
  1. Because all authority is not in the body but in the Head (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). 
  2. Because all rule of government is not in the kingdom but in the King (Heb. 7:1-2; Rev. 1:5-6).
  3. Because all authority is not in the church but in Christ alone (Matt. 28:18; 1 Peter 3:22).  
  4. The church is not the savior of souls, but rather the body of the saved souls (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:22-24).  
  5. Christ the Head warns the church, His body, repeatedly not to depart from His teachings (Acts 20:25-31; Ephesians 4:17-24).
Christ’s true and only church is mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 16:18). It is undeniable that in the religious world, each man-made church has its own head. But the Word of God tells us that Christ is the Head of the true church mentioned therein (Ephesians 1:22, 23). Undoubtedly, the church that has the sinless Son of God as its Head is better than one that does not.  What do you think?
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Foundation is as Good as Another:
"For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."  (1 Corinthians 3:11).
So, is one foundation as good as another?  All different churches in the religious world have been built upon different foundations. Christ is the foundation of His church (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; Matthew 16:18).  We cannot build on a sandy foundation (Matthew 7:24-28). But Christ’s true church was built upon the unique Truth that He is “the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 16:16-18; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another if The Worship of The Church is Important:
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth."  (John 4:24)
It is quite evident that different churches worship in different ways, ways that are not authorized by God. But we can see according to the New Testament that one worship is not as good as another (John 4:24; Matthew 15:9). We can argue all day and night about one worship being as good as another, but the Truth of the matter is, it isn’t so and never has been! (Genesis 4:3-5; Leviticus 10:1, 2)
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Doctrine is as Good as Another:
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."  (1 John 9-11)

The word doctrine means teaching. So is one teaching or doctrine as good as another?  Do you really think so? Why not read and find for yourself the truth about this in Acts 2:42; Hebrews 13:9; 1 Timothy 4:1,2; 2 John 9-11?  Again, when we carefully consider the teachings of the different religious groups that exist today, we immediately notice that many preach different doctrines that are not authorized by God. Why are there so many different churches then? The New Testament stresses that one doctrine is not as good as another (Galatians 1:6-9). As a matter of fact, most of the New Testament was written to correct the doctrine of those who were in error, teachers who had corrupted it.
  • One Baptism is Not as Good as Another:
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."  (Ephesians 4:5-6)
 So is one baptism as good as another? Paul said there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). This "one baptism" is a burial in water (John 3:23; Mark 1:4,5; Romans 6:3,4; and Colossians 1:12). This one baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It is essential for salvation in Christ (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26,27).  Matthew 28:19 says,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them… “  
Jesus did not say, “baptize them when they are infants and teach them when they grow up.”

Christ put teaching before baptism.  In Mark 16:16, Jesus said,
“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  
Jesus did not say, “Baptize them in infancy and let them believe when they grow up.”  Our Lord and Savior puts belief (faith) before baptism.

Peter said,

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 2:38)

Peter did not say,
“Baptize them in infancy and let them repent when they become old enough.”  

He put repentance before baptism.  When the eunuch asked in Acts 8:36-37, “What prevents me from being baptized?” Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  Every positive law implies a negative one.  Hence, a baby cannot be baptized. Why?  Because in baptism we obey from the heart that form of doctrine (death, burial, and resurrection of Christ) and then we are made free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:17-18).  It is impossible for a baby to obey from his heart as it is also impossible for him to be baptized.   An infant cannot become free from sins, past, present, or future, even if he had any sins.  Parents can take a baby to be baptized, but it is just a wet baby.  He is not a baptized baby.  The Bible affirms that there is only one baptism (Eph. 4:5), forbidding two.  The fact that Jesus commanded to baptize believers (Mark 16:16) prohibits the baptizing of infants since they are not believers.  God commanded Noah to build the ark with gopher wood.  That prohibited steel or anything else.  Likewise, when Jesus explicitly commanded to baptize believers, that prohibited the baptizing of infants.  Regarding communion, Jesus commanded that we take the bread and the fruit of the vine.  This prohibits taking milk or something else at the Lord’s Supper.  Therefore, there is no command in the Word of God from beginning to end for infant baptism!  They are demonic and man-made doctrines.
  • One Priest is as Good as Another: 
"But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, 12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it. 17 For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth."  (Hebrews 9:11-17)

We are living today under the New Covenant, with Jesus Christ serving as our High Priest. "By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also, there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood." (Hebrews 7:22-24).  So is it acceptable to God that we accept just any person as our High Priest?  (Hebrews 9:11-17; 10:10-22)
  • Being Lost is as Good as Being Saved? 
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body."  (Ephesians 5:23)
Accepting other gods, founders, blood, heads, foundations, baptisms, priests, man-made doctrines, and traditions will cause us to be lost for eternity! Please consider reading Acts 2:47; Ephesians 5:23; Ephesians 2:16; Matthew 25:31-46.

Therefore, to admit that one church is as good as another, there must be some standard for determining good or evil.  All churches must equally measure up to that standard, for if one church falls short of other churches in measuring up to that standard, then it is not as good as the others are. Moreover, to claim that one church is as good as another is the same as saying that all churches are equally good or bad!   Friends, if you are a member of some church, do you believe the church where you are a member is as bad as others? If your answer is negative one (and I suspect it is), then you do not really believe that one church is as good as another.  Think about this!


III.  WHAT ABOUT TRADITIONS?
  • The Problem of Tradition:
One of the problems that the churches faced from the beginning was the power of traditionTradition (customary ways of doing things) is not necessarily bad.  In fact, the apostle Paul praised the church in Corinth for holding “firmly to the traditions, just I delivered them to you.”  (I Cor. 11:2).  Assembling with other Christians every Lord’s Day, praying at a regular time every day, studying and meditating on the Word of God every day, gathering with family members to celebrate certain special days are all examples of good traditions since they encourage each other.  However, we must be careful since traditions can also hurt the church and even violate the Word of God.  Our Lord Jesus said that keeping man-made traditions can cause others to neglect and ignore God’s commandments.  Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders, who would hold on to the tradition of giving money to the Temple rather than honoring their mother and father by supplying what they needed (Mark 7:6-13).  They obviously violated God’s commandment.  Perhaps, the tradition of giving to the Temple had an honest beginning, namely to enable the maintenance of God’s holy place.  However, the Jewish leaders enforced such a practice, using their human reasoning and thinking that giving to the Temple was, in fact, honoring one’s parents when in reality that was not what God had ordained by the fifth commandment at all.  This is something they invented out of their stubborn and carnal heartWhen man insists on keeping man-made traditions, such traditions become more important than the Word of God, keeping all believers from obeying His Word.  To them, it is easier and wiser to follow the lead of their religious leaders, than to follow the leadership of Christ.  When something is done over and over again, being justified, we have what is called a “tradition.”  Let us make sure that we keep traditions that are for our edification and not our destruction.

The commandments and inventions of men gradually lead to apostasy, and the development of false religion and doctrine. And even though many men tried to reform the Catholic Church, bringing her back to the Truth, back to the Light, their efforts only resulted in the establishment of more man-made churches led by false teaching.  Their man-made efforts only gave birth to denominationalism along with their false doctrines.  Denominationalism is the offspring of Catholicism.  The true and pure church that Jesus died for, purchased with His own blood, and was founded by Him and the apostles in the first century was neither Catholic, nor Protestant, but merely the church that belonged to Christ composed of Christians (saints).  Thus, one might ask, "Is it acceptable to practice the traditions of the church fathers?" Indeed, this is an excellent question and one that we must consider.  Again, traditions are not sinful as long as they do not become doctrinal and depart from all Biblical Truth.  God never accepted, in either the Old or New Testament, a departure from the Truth, that is, adding to or taking away from His Word. Especially not to make room for traditions. The Israelites were commanded strictly not to change the Old Law,
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2
The New Testament also ends with this warning to those who would presume to change or moderate God's word for any reason,
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and the things which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:18-19)

In the divine wisdom of the Proverbs of the Bible,
"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add not thou unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."  (Proverbs 30:5-6
Though this is in the Old Testament, the principle continues today under the New Testament. The apostle Paul wrote,
"...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."  (Romans 3:4)

Jesus explicitly warned us about not changing God's Word to make room for man-made traditions, for it destroys the effectiveness of His Word.  God's Word becomes ineffective when we replace even a small part of it with man-made traditions!  Take heed!

In Mark 7:5-9 we read,
"Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."
Also Mark 7:13,
 "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye."
Jesus is speaking of those whose hearts are far from Him. Well, someone might suggest that as long as our heart is close to God, then, our traditions would not have the same effect.  But Jesus said,
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."  (John 14:21).  

Notice what Jesus said in verse 23, "If a man love me, he will keep my words..." So we must obey the teachings of Jesus for our hearts to abide in Him, for this will reflect our love for Him.  But if we choose to disobey Him by keeping the traditions of men, though we might claim to love Him, Jesus said we do not love Him.  Take heed!  While we might have great affection for Him because we're keeping the traditions of the church, He said we do not love Him.

According to the traditions of the church fathers, the decisions made at the councils or synods represented God's Law. But this tradition itself represents nothing but a departure from the teachings of Christ, His Law. If their decisions are not what the Bible teaches, we must reject them!  So we must ask, "Is there something in addition to or does it retract from the Bible?"  No one is authorized to teach or add anything different from what has already been written as the Word of God. In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul warned the brethren about following other doctrines.
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

To understand the depth of this command, we must consider the meaning of the ancient Greek word for 'accursed' which is 'anathema' and means to execrate or condemn as abominable. Those who dare teach a changed and different Gospel will lead their followers to hell and are condemned!  So we must be cautious about whose teaching we are going to believe and follow.  We must remember that our eternal destiny will depend upon the choices we make.  Unfortunately, all the denominational bodies of today hold traditions that are nothing but a complete departure from the New Testament pattern. We must stress that the church of Jesus Christ, the One He purchased with His own blood exists today, and it only includes those people who:
  1. Speak where the Bible speaks.
  2. Are silent where the Bible is silent.
  3. Do Bible things in Bible ways and with the authority of their Head, our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  4. Call Bible things by Bible names.
Everyone is invited to become part of the New Testament church by simply obeying the pure Gospel of Christ. When we choose to do this, we are no longer part of a denominational body. We will be merely Christians, nothing more, nothing less, a part of the only church which Jesus built and purchased with His own blood.  The Lord has commanded all men everywhere to examine everything and accept no substitutes for the Bible, to reject all man-made material written by men, and to learn exactly what the Bible teaches and obey it.  Period!


CONCLUSION:

Are you in the church that Christ purchased with His blood? If not, you can be, and you must be to be saved eternally.  We must carefully consider the truthfulness of the saying, "one church is as good as another." Is one person as good as another?  I must stress that my question does not include those who have never made an effort to follow our Lord and His Lordship.  I'm speaking of those who profess to being Jesus' disciples. In the Gospel, we often read of some who are “weak in the faith” (Rom. 14:1) and of others who are “strong” (Rom. 15:1).  Some who are likened to “gold, silver, and precious stones,” and others who are likened to “wood, hay, and stubble” (1 Cor. 3:12). Some who are “carnal” (1 Cor. 3:1), and others who are “spiritual” (Gal. 6:1). But can we really say that all of these persons are equally as good, and therefore equally as bad?  The truth is that we cannot determine whether one person is as good as another person without qualifications whatsoever.  Each local church is composed of people who are joined together in faith and practice. Their “faith and practice”  determine the rightness or wrongness of the church that was formed by their together relationships. But if any church, composed of people, fails to comply with God's terms, the terms that define true discipleship, such a church is not as good as the true church founded by Jesus our Lord.  On the other hand, if a church consists of those who freely comply with the scriptural teachings (doctrines) and requirements for true discipleship, then such a church is  “as good” as the one established by Jesus our Lord.

In Revelation chapters 2-3, we find letters that were written to the seven churches in Asia. One church (Ephesus) had some who had left their “first love” (2:4). Pergamos had some members who held “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,” a doctrine which the Lord said “I hate” (2:15). The church in Thyatira permitted “that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (2:20). The Lord described the church at Sardis as being “dead” (3:1), and the church at Laodicea as being “lukewarm” (3:16). On the other hand, there was not one word of condemnation against the church at Smyrna (2:8-11),  the church at Philadelphia was described as being approved by the Lord (3:7-13). So can an intelligent person read the seven letters written to these churches and then honestly conclude that every one of these seven churches was “as good” as the others?   What do you think?  My friends, if we can’t say that about all churches then, why is it that you say that one church is as good as another? 

Let us be very careful and not use a false standard!  Why?  Simply because when one says “I am as good as another,” he is making the same mistake made by some at Corinth. They measured “themselves by themselves,” and compared “themselves among themselves,” and Paul rebuked them, saying they “are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).  You see they used the wrong rod for measuring.  If someone says, “I am as good as you are,” he proves that neither of us is as good as we ought to be. When someone sets his watch by another man’s watch that is wrong, both watches are then wrong! Don't you think?  Thus, it is the same in religious matters! Since “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23), neither a man’s life nor his individual doctrine is to be the standard for determining religious conduct. We must seek the only true standard!  So which is the true standard?  Consider the following Scriptures.
“God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son.” (Heb. 1:2)
Jesus said, “the word that I have spoken,  the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Through Jesus' death, He became “the mediator of the New Testament” (Heb.  9:15), and it is explicitly through this new covenant or testament that Christ speaks to us today and nothing else. Thus, this is the only divine standard that determines what man must do to become and to remain Jesus' disciple.  So how does one become a disciple of Christ, and what does it involve?  Consider the following critical steps to follow.
  1. Believe in God and his Son (Heb. 11:6; John 8:24).
  2. Repent of all sins (Acts 2:38; 17:30).
  3. Confess one's faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:32; Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10).
  4. And be buried with Christ in baptism for the remission of sins (Rom. 6:3, 4; Acts 2:38). At this point, one rises to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) and is “added to the church” which the Lord established and bought with His own blood (Acts 2:41, 47).
It is distressing to see how many churches have failed to follow the divine pattern that Jesus ordained for the one and only true church that He purchased with His own blood.  Most of these churches do not comply with Jesus' terms that make for discipleship. Those who refuse to comply with the simple terms that Jesus authorized for discipleship because they have chosen to follow a different pattern not laid out by Jesus but by men have not yet obeyed the Lord's requirements for true discipleship, true disciples of Jesus.  So if the members of one church have become disciples, and the members of another church have not, then is the latter “as good” as the former?  What do you think?  Well, a true disciple or follower of Christ must be a person who became a follower of Christ and continues to follow Him faithfully. Besides living a morally upright life, he must unite himself to a group of disciples of the like precious faith and be joined together by a common faith and practice. You see in the first century those who obeyed this pattern were “called Christians” (Acts 11:26), and “they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  Moreover, upon “the first day of the week” they “came together to break bread” or to partake of the “Lord’s Supper” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20-28), and to “lay by . . . in store” or to give as “prospered” (1 Cor. 16:1, 2). They also sang praises unto God (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), their music was vocal or acappella in nature. Their “together activities” involved membership in a local congregation whose entire organization consisted of “bishops” (or elders), deacons, and saints (Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5, 7).  Each congregation was autonomous and had its own appointed elders (Acts 14:23) whose oversight was confined only to that one church (Acts 20:28). A denominationally structured organization of churches was unheard of in New Testament days.  It is unscriptural and violates the divine pattern that the Lord gave the church to follow!

The Gospel teaches us what it takes to become and to remain a Christian.  It also shows us how Christians comply with the Lord's terms to make them the only true New Testament church!  Those who claim to be Christians but refuse to follow the conditions set by the Lord Himself to observe have not and are not following the terms set by Him for discipleship.  So are they "as good" as the true church that follows the correct pattern ordained by Jesus?  What do you think? We must stress that it is not just a matter of moral uprightness, but rather a matter of showing respect or reverence to the Lord as they comply with His correct standard or pattern.  There is no middle ground here!   You either obey God completely, or you disobey what He commands we do. Remember that in Matthew 15:9 and Colossians 2:2, Jesus condemned the doctrines and precepts of men.  I seriously doubt that anyone truly thinks that it does not matter which church one attends because there are criteria that each one uses to choose a particular church with which to worship. The real question is whether the criteria that we use is that which pleases Him whom we intend to worship and honor. Let me urge everyone to give more serious consideration to the pattern that Jesus has given us in the writings of His apostles and prophets. It really does matter to our Lord!
"And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  (Matthew 16:18-19)

May we all honor our Lord Jesus by respecting His wishes in the way in which we worship Him.

Luci


Friday, June 28, 2019

THE DOCTRINE OF EXPEDIENCY


 “All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient (helpful). All things are lawful; but not all things edify (build up).”  
1 Corinthians 10:23


One of the acute problems that we have in the family of God is learning to get along with one another. Some of us are hyper-critical and find it hard to tolerate communion with anyone. Others are so tolerant that it does not seem to matter what the Lord has written in the Sacred Scriptures. The apostles have counselled us on how to love one another and still stand firmly on the Truth of the Gospel. One of the keywords to understand is the word, “expedient.” I have struggled with these issues like nearly everyone has and realize that it is a demanding study. Yet it is very important because our love for one another is the main way that the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus.

Many questionable things are justified with these words, "they can be practiced as expediencies." It is almost the same as saying that the end justifies the means. Anything seems good and permissible if it accomplishes some special goal, whether or not it is authorized.  What they don't take into account is that those things that they want to accomplish do not eliminate the need for authority.  In 1 Corinthians 6:12, the apostle Paul wrote,
"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."   

The concept of expediency is often misunderstood and often used to justify or excuse sin.  They argue that Paul is implying that nothing is naturally sinful. However, in that same letter, Paul gives us a list of sins that will keep one from entering the kingdom of Heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-11).  He stresses that although some things may be allowed and are not inherently sinful, they are not helpful.  As a matter of fact, Paul uses food and physical relationships as examples. Although eating food is absolutely not contrary to God’s will, it still may not be expedient when it has been offered to idols.  The reason for this is mainly because one can violate another's conscience by such action (1 Cor 8:1-13).  Moreover, Paul speaks of a man's physical relations as a natural gift given by God, but when used for fornication it becomes sinful, for such a privilege is abused by doing that.


I.  WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM "EXPEDIENT"?

To understand the subject of expediency, it is crucial that we understand the context in which the word is used.  The term "expediency" means something advantageous or advisable on practical rather than moral grounds, or something suitable, appropriate, or finally a means of attaining an end.  Expediency and matters of expedience are a reality in every setting whether we are relating to friends or with strangers.  Expediency is making wise judgments for the good of another person.  Expediency and matters of expedience are about maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).

The Greek word sumphero, is translated “expedient,” and it will be helpful to better understand its meaning. In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus used that term with an illustration of the way the human body functions.  He used the eye to teach us how our eyes can hinder us spiritually so that it might be “profitable,” (i.e., better) to remove one of the eyes to keep the whole body from going to hell.   In John 16:7, we are given another example.  Jesus told His disciples that it is “to your advantage” for Him to go away and send the Holy Spirit to them.  These examples given to us are the essence of the term. The word or term "expediency" is used to describe an action that is  “profitable” or “advantageous.”  In some translations, the word "expedient" is used in place of  "profitable," or "helpful."  One must understand first the true meaning of the word to understand the context of what Paul was talking about.  The definition of the word  "expedient" is: “convenient and practical, improper or immoral, advantageous, in one's own interests, useful, of use, beneficial, of benefit, helpful; practical, pragmatic, politic, prudent, wise, judicious, sensible.”  Let us focus on the importance of the expediency of what we do.  Expediency is about making wise judgments for the good of a person. It pertains to all matters of opinion.

The word "expediency" is found in the Greek New Testament seventeen times.  It is also translated as “profit” or “profitable.”  When one thinks of "expediency," he must think of matters that are profitable to the other person: something that is good, wise, sensible, or beneficial to the well-being or edification of the other person.  These are all matters of wisdom and judgment. So the question for us as Christians is “How can we best apply all matters of expediency with wisdom and righteous judgment?” Expediency centers on "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  (Ephesians 4:3).  It is all about making the most profitable and upright judgments rooted firmly in the will of God.  It is all about doing God’s will and not my will.  We must make wise judgments each time we decide how to expedite expediency.  This matter will define how sound a church is or is not.  Soundness is a vital part of expediency.  Sadly, we live in a culture that is not willing to understand this principle.  How can we maintain balance in matters of judgment or expediency and not argue over matters that don't amount to a hill of beans?  Again, the answer rests upon the Sacred Text. The key is to diligently search the Scriptures to make the wise and righteous application in any setting or relationship.  We allow the Spirit of unity to enter the church and all other personal relationships through His Word.


II.   EXAMINATION OF EXPEDIENCY:


  • For Something to Be a Scriptural Expedient, It Must Be First Lawful:  (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23).

We establish lawful authority by direct statement, approved example, or necessary inference, because that which is not authorized is illegal and excluded by God's will and therefore unlawful, sinful.  For anything to be Scripturally expedient, it must harmonize with the will of God as expressed in His Word.   Expediency is the right to choose according to what God has authorized as lawful.  We must stress that for a thing to be Scripturally expedient, it must first be lawful or authorized by God (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). Again, we must stress that lawful authority must be established by direct statement, approved example, or necessary inference, for that which is unauthorized is unlawful, not in harmony with the will of God and it is excluded by God's authority.  Therefore, if it is not established by divine authority, it is not lawful but sinful.  In 2 John 9-11 we are forbidden from going beyond that which is written and authorized. We cannot know what pleases God if the Holy Spirit has not revealed it to us (1 Cor. 2:10-13).  So unlawful things cannot be expedients, even if we deceive ourselves into thinking that they are good. Take for example what David did when he used the ox cart to move the ark of the covenant. Whatever he might have been thinking, it was not right (1 Chron.13:7-10; 15:2, 13-15).  Because he failed to do it right, in the lawful and authorized way according to God's divine authority, God got angry, striking Uzza down when he put out his hand to steady the ark. Nadab and Abihu thought the fire they used would expedite their efforts to burn incense (Lev. 10:1-2), but God sent fire to consume them, for they offered to God unauthorized fire.  When we add to, take away from or substitute for God's Word and His ways, it fails to be expedient.  It is not a matter of expediency, for it is a transgression against God's will.  Anything outside of the realm of those things that God has authorized is sinful. It is an unauthorized act.

The apostle Paul dealt with matters of expediency at Corinth in the most expedient way, that is, the most edifying and beneficial way.  Although there were many factions and heresies taking place,  Paul dealt with every matter according to the divine standard of our Lord and Savior as stated in I Corinthians 1:10, 
“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.”  
And Colossians 3:17,
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."  

The same divine standard must govern each church of Christ in all that we do or say.  This is a real challenge!  The focus and intent of the heart must be to do the will of God as revealed in the Sacred Text.
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."  (Hebrews 4:12
"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."  (I Corinthians 10:23)

In I Corinthians 10:23, Paul stated, "but not all things edify."  That is, not everything that is lawful under the Lordship of Christ, would necessarily edify, help or be profitable to the one who is weak in his faith.  And although we may have permission from God to do certain things, we might not be authorized to do them because they are not profitableThe liberty that Jesus gives us does not give us a license to disobey God's commands or ignore His necessary implications.  Turning back a few pages to chapter 8, Paul discusses the matter of eating meats offered to idolsSome were puffed up by knowledge.  Knowledge alone is not enough.  When love and knowledge are interwoven, edification can occur, I Cor. 8:1; 13:1-8.
"Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies."  

In chapter 8, Paul firmly states that their knowledge of the supposed liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols amounted to nothing.  It is all vanity, I Cor. 8:4-6.  You see, what Paul was trying to avoid was causing the weak brother (a babe in Christ) to stumble in his faith.  Why?  Because these were babes in Christ who could be easily drawn back into idolatry and stumble or sinWhy?  Because it would not be expedient, beneficial, profitable or edifying to affirm the liberty that would destroy his brother.  A weak brother or sister without proper explanation and instruction would easily be offended, that is, stumble (8:7-13).  Paul stresses that we must be very careful not to let our knowledge become a wound to the weak brother's conscience (8:12; Romans 14:23).  Since these are all matters of intent, we must deal with them to build up and edify the body of Christ in the most beneficial, expedient way according to the divine pattern of the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).  Again, we must stress that we must not do anything that seems to be matters of opinion that will cause a weak brother or sister to stumble.  That is why in I Corinthians 8:9, Paul is urging the Corinthians to be careful and not allow their knowledge to become a stumbling block to those who were still weak in their faith, without much understanding, teaching or knowledge of those principles.  We as Christians must never cause another Christian who is still weak to stumble over matters of opinion.  The Truth is that if we do not obey this instruction given by Christ, we ourselves will be judged by Him.   Period!
"Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power."  (II Thessalonians 1:8-9).  

    • Confusing Law and Expediency:
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, the apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit stated,
"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."  
To understand what Paul was implying in this verse to the Corinthians, we must first examine the context to understand what he implied.  In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is addressing some issues that were brought to his attention by the house of Chloe back in I Corinthians 1:11, for there were contentions or quarrels.  "For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you." This led him to address some of the issues that had developed since he was there last, Acts 18.

When Paul stated in  I Corinthians 6:12, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."  It is as if Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit was saying, "All things are lawful that are lawful, but not all of these lawful things are expedient" (useful, advantageous, profitable).  Obviously, Paul was not talking about sinful and unauthorized acts in the term "all things."

Our liberties may cause someone to stumble. Though we may be “free” from guilt in the matter itself, we may not be free from guilt if what we do causes another to sin. It is not the same as the offense of the cross, or the Truth of the Gospel. No one has the right before God to feel offended by hearing The truth of God (1 Cor. 1:23; 8:8-9; 1 Peter 2:6-8).  And though a righteous stand may cause someone to be angry and close their hearts to the Word of God, we must never allow our liberties to cause another to sin.  Why?  Because there are many things that we can stop doing and saying that will never compromise the Truth.  Just because we may do or say something, it does not mean that we must!  Preaching and teaching must come from the Word of God and must not be controlled by the misguided conscience of others (2 Tim. 4:12).  And since the Word of God is sharp, it will often cut and offend the hearers (Hebrews 4:12).  We have the liberty to preach and teach others the counsel of God even though some may stumble or get offended.  We must keep teaching what God demands that we teach, even though it might offend the hearer (Matt. 15:1-14).  There will be many who will reject the Word of God and its correction (Heb. 12:6-8).  In the Bible, the prophets sometimes use strong and offensive words such as “bastard” for those who reject correction from God (Heb. 12:6-8).  While it is appropriate to use such a term to refer to this kind of person, it is not always expedient.  Imagine calling someone who is not a believer a bastard!  Will he not be offended or insulted by such foul language?  And though we might be correct in Spiritual terminology, we run the risk of being incorrect in what is expedient, for the untaught person might not even know what I'm trying to say or teach him.  It is lawful, but not expedient!

Many brethren have difficulty in differentiating between that which is lawful and unlawful, expedient and inexpedient. Some even oppose unlawful "inexpedient" practices as being justifiable expedients.  The apostle Paul stresses how critical it is for Christians to examine everything and discern all things, for not everything that is accepted by everybody is the most "profitable" or "advantageous" action to take. Even though God has blessed all mankind with a mind, He still expects us to use it appropriately and in harmony with His will to avoid making mistakes or rash, careless and thoughtless decisions or choices.  The truth is, a mature and faithful Christian will always consider what is most "profitable" or "advantageous," for he acknowledges the best action or decision to take and how much it will affect him as well as others spiritually, whether it is sinful or not sinful.  A mature Christian is careful and acknowledges the importance of not causing someone else to do wrong or sin when exercising his liberties.  He is aware of the impact he may have on others by his actions even though they might not be wrong in principle, but wrong because they may cause more harm than good in a specific situation.  We must grow in our knowledge of Him!  This is the utmost of true expediency (John 17:17; II Peter 1:2-11; 3:18).
"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."  (John 17:17)
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."  (II Peter 3:18)

Sadly, there are many that would charge us with being "legalistic."  Why?  Because if one as a Christian keeps all laws, obeying all of God's commands, they say that he is a “legalist.”  Some would go as far as to say that since we are under "Free Grace," there are no laws or rules for us Christians anymore.  That we are under liberty to do as we please because Grace covers us.  So I don't have to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12.  Let us not forget that all Christians are under the Law of Christ, Rom. 8:7; James 1:25.  There are doctrines, rules, and commands that we must follow and obey.

In I Corinthians 6:12, what did Paul mean with "All things are lawful for me?"  Did he mean that it was lawful or acceptable for us as Christians under the Law of Christ to defile the marriage bed?  To lie?  To cheat?  To quarrel?  To murder?  To fornicate? To get drunk?  To covet?  To steal? To dress immodestly and provocative?  The list can be long.  Notice, what Paul is telling them three verses earlier, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”  Moreover, in verse 18, Paul commands them to flee all immorality but rather glorify God in their bodies.  Why?  Because they were bought by the precious blood of our Lord, v. 20.   Because our bodies are His temple, v. 19.

Also, in other letters such as the letter to the Galatians, the Ephesians and of course the Corinthians, Paul is giving them a list of sins which without a doubt were unlawful for Christians.  (Ephesians 5:3-5; Galatians 5:19-21; I Corinthians 6:9-11).  Take note that the list of unlawful things precedes the discussion of all things that were lawful but not expedient.  For example in Romans 8:7, Paul is telling them that they were to obey "the Law of God."  And although Paul taught them that they were no longer under the Law of Moses (Rom. 10:3-5; Gal. 3:25; 4:9-12, 21-31), he was not saying that they were under no law of any kind.  Why?  Because we, Christians, are under the laws or commands of the New Testament, the Law of Christ.  Are you aware that 9 out of 10 commandments under the Law of Moses are repeated in the Law of Christ, the New Covenant?

The utterance "All things are lawful for me" was apparently a slogan the Corinthians had embraced in order to justify their sinful behavior.  When the Corinthians referred to "all things," they meant all things not specifically forbidden in the Scriptures.  By the way, Paul uses the same slogan to get their attention.

This is seen clearly in I Corinthians 6:1-20 and I Corinthians 8:1-11:1.   Here Paul is referring to our liberty in specified areas.  It is undeniable that we have much freedom in our walk with Christ and that we have free will to choose what is right or wrong, yet we have serious restrictionsWhy?  Because our purpose is not to cause anyone to stumbleHe implies that there might be times when we must abstain even from those lawful things.  Why?  Because we can become enslaved or mastered by those things that are lawful.  That is to say that if at any given moment, we find ourselves brought under the control of the fleshly or worldly things, it is then that we must choose to cease from it.  We must make every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Therefore, one must restrict his liberty, for example, in the matter of habits or addictions.  Why?  Because to become addicted or dominated by anything, even those things that are not specifically forbidden in Scripture is wrong.

So my question is: Are sports, fishing, hunting, gardening, reading, writing.... and even too much TV or computer networking and even our jobs be harmful addictions?  Although they can be morally neutral, they can become harmful addictions if one is not careful.  One example is a husband neglecting his wife and his children to pursue some of these things.  Many try to rationalize by saying, "what is wrong with sports, fishing, hunting... It is not forbidden in the Bible."  The same with drinking alcohol or wine and legal drugs.  And although the Bible does not specifically forbid these altogether, a good and faithful Christian must abstain from them under most circumstances.  Why?
  1. First, because it is wise from the standpoint of not causing your brother to stumble.  
  2. Second, we are not to be mastered by anything that is not our Lord.  
  3. Third, it might cause the ruin or downfall for many. 

The Lord warns us not to be mastered by anything.  We are not to be brought under the control of anything else that it is not Him and His rule.  He as the Master has all power and authority over us Christians.  We are His slaves.  He is the only One who can dictate what He wants us, His slaves, to do or not do.  Unfortunately, many Christians are mastered or enslaved by the wrong master.  They are simply mastered by worldly things and habits.  They indulge in the desires of their flesh.  They are enemies of His cross whose final state will be their own destruction,  Philippians 3:18-19.


  • For Something to Be Expedient, It Cannot Be Specified:

Our only standard to determine what can and cannot be done by the Lord's authority is His Word.  The Word of God explicitly authorizes via direct statements and examples. Thus whatever we do in word or deed must be done by the authority of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17).  The Bible, the Word of God, teaches and authorizes by implication.  It is sometimes difficult to understand God’s implications because understanding involves proper and sound reasoning to draw the conclusion that God expects us to draw.  Since God made us in His image, and He is all wise, He expects us to use the wisdom He has given us to study His Word and draw conclusions from His explicit statements in the Bible.  We must stress again that Truth via implication is authoritative. God also authorizes what is expedient within the confines of that which is lawful.  Though God gives us laws, rules, and obligations, He doesn't always specify all the details to fulfill those duties, so we must weigh the available choices to determine which choice is the most advantageous to accomplish such general obligations. That is, we must seek what is the most expedient way to carry out the Lord’s will.

    • Noah And The Ark:  (Genesis 6:13-16)
God specified "gopher wood" for the construction of the ark (Gen. 6:14). By faith, Noah did all that God commanded him to do (Gen. 6:22; Cf. Heb. 11:7). {God was also very specific about the Passover sacrifice. It had to a blemish-free male lamb, of the first year (Ex. 12:5).}  God was very specific in His instructions to Noah, for He explicitly told Noah what kind of wood to use.  Expediency in human wisdom requires the right of choice, within the realm of those things that God has authorized.  And though Noah could have chosen another wood similar to gopher, whether it was small or large logs, he still had to obey God and use gopher wood{The Israelites could have chosen which blemish-free male lamb, of the first year, to be offered; but to obey God, they had to offer such an animal.} To go beyond what is specified, or offer a substitute, is to add to what God has already said rather than obeying His Word. So if God had not been specific with Noah, then Noah could have used any other type of wood he wanted, right?  Yes!  If God had said to use “wood” to make the ark, then Noah would have had God's authority (by expediency) to use another wood such as oak, pine, birch or any other kind of wood that might serve his purpose.  However, God never gave Noah that choice, for He was very specific when He authorized gopher wood!  God commanded Noah to use gopher wood and nothing else.  You see God does not have to prohibit everything He does not want.  Why?  Because all He needs to do is to authorize what He wants us to do and we must never go beyond His authority!

Think for a moment, if God had to specifically prohibit everything He did not want us to do or say, our Bibles would have to be very big.  It would surely be impossible to carry our Bibles!  Hence we must respect the silence of the Scriptures and determine to say and do only those things that God has authorized. That is what Colossians 3:17 teaches!  It would be a big mistake to attempt to justify anything that God has not authorized by simply stating that the Bible does not explicitly prohibit such. Instead of looking within ourselves to determine whether we should do or say a certain thing, we should look to what God wants us to do. We must ask ourselves, "Where has God authorized it?" It is not enough to claim that the New Testament does not condemn a certain activity, for that type of thinking does not work! What works for God is to show that He has authorized a particular thing by direct statement, example, or implication. Within these three expressions of authority, we must also consider what is the most expedient way to carry out God’s will.

So, the question at stake is.  "Did Noah have to use any human judgment when he built the ark?"  Well, not in the matter of which wood to use because God was very specific about it.  And though God was very specific about the building of the ark, He still allowed Noah to use his human judgment in many ways to fulfill the obligation of building the ark.  Human judgment is involved in all obligations that God has given us.  For example, did God specify where to build the ark? There is no indication that He did. Noah could have built the ark in his backyard, on top of a hill, or anywhere else large enough to build it.  God gave Noah the obligation to build the ark, and, to fulfill that obligation, he had to choose an appropriate location to build the ark. Now, under the circumstances, I doubt it would have been expedient for Noah to build the ark on top of a hill because he would have been required to haul a lot of wood up there. And that brings me to another question: Where was Noah supposed to get the wood?  The Bible does not tell us where God specified Noah to get the wood. He probably had to go out and cut the wood. Now that brings up other matters for human judgment. How was Noah to cut the wood?  Was he supposed to use a hand saw or chainsaw?  Of course, Noah did not have a chain saw.  The point is that even when God was very specific, Noah had to make some decisions concerning the construction of the ark.  I don't doubt that Noah chose the options that were most expedient or advantageous for him. Of course, all the choices he made had to be in harmony with the will of God and the general and specific obligations that He had placed on him. Noah did not go beyond that which God had authorized for him to do.
"Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did."  (Genesis 6:22).

God authorizes by expediency where man must make human judgments to fulfill his obligations.  However, it is crucial that we understand that if God specifies how an obligation is to be carried out, then the method is just as binding as the obligation itself.  If God had told Noah where to get the wood, how to cut it, and where and when to build the ark, then none of these things would have been matters of expediency. But sometimes, as in the case of Noah, God gives obligations to fulfill to please God, but there are times when we will have to use common sense to make our choices.  So, before we can say or do something, we must first have the authority from God to say or do it! 
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Col. 3:17).
In the New Testament we find some truths explicitly and others implicitly.  Take for example,
    • Acts 18:8:  "Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household..." 
There are three things we can learn explicitly here.
      1. Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue.
      2. Crispus believed in the Lord.
      3. Crispus' household also believed in the Lord when he obeyed.
Can you see anything implied in this sentence? Yes! It is implied that Crispus had to first hear the Gospel that was proclaimed to him before he believed.

So how do we know this since this passage doesn't explicitly state it?  Because of what we know from Romans 10:17 and implication, for Romans 10:17 declares.  "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Before Crispus could develop faith to obey the Gospel, he had to first hear the Good News.  We know for sure that Crispus must have heard the Gospel, even though Acts 18:8 does not mention it explicitly.  So it is true implicitly!

    • We find another example of implication in Acts 22:16:  "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

Here in this verse, Ananias speaks to Saul. We are taught several things explicitly here, but can we see what is implied in this verse?   I see one implied truth and that is that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus when he talked to Jesus, though many denominations teach that he was.  You see they have drawn the wrong or false conclusion that cannot be supported by the Bible.  How can we infer that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus?  Simply because of the way Ananias spoke to Saul. Saul was told to wash away his sins! Therefore, it is implied that Saul was still in his sins at that moment, that is, that Paul could not have been saved when he spoke to Jesus on the road to Damascus. Think about it!  If Paul was already saved at that point, he would not still be in his sins! Do you see how we can examine direct statements, and how we can conclude or determine firmly without any doubt that our conclusion or inference is correct? The New Testament implies that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus, but only after he was taught and after he obeyed the Gospel.  We can rest assured that this is explicitly commanded in the written Scriptures!

We have been given many other examples which we will discuss in this study.  Again we must stress that when an action, fact, or teaching is absolutely commanded in the Bible without being explicitly specified or stated, you can rest assured that such an action, fact, or teaching is a matter of implication. The New Testament absolutely authorizes and prohibits certain things by implication.  Hence, God in the New Testament, the Law of Christ, authorizes via direct statements, examples, and implication.

    • Hebrews 10:25:  "Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

In this passage, we are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Now,  why not use the minds that God has given us to conclude that we must not forsake the assembly of Christians.  What does this verse imply? It implies that God has authorized us to have an assembly and that He expects Christians to assemble together. We are obligated, commanded to assemble together to worship God and stir each other up unto love and good works. Now, since we are commanded to assemble, what does that imply? It implies that we must have some place to assemble!  And though it is essential that we have a place to assemble, do we any choice or options about the place we use to assemble together? What does the New Testament really say on this matter?  Well, Acts 20:7-9 gives us an example of Christians assembling in a building on the third floor.   By the same token, Acts 12:12 tells us that some Christians assembled in houses. We have other verses that we might consider. However, it is evident that though Christians did not always gather together in the same type of place, God authorized His children to choose what kind of physical structure (if any, cf. John 4:21) to gather under. So it is clear that assembling together is essential, but the place we assemble involves considering various options, choices. There are at least five options with regard to an assembling place:
        1. Buy a building.
        2. Rent a building.
        3. Construct a building.
        4. Meet in someone's home, or
        5. Meet outside in the open.

Even though we have five options, not all of them may be expedient. Why?  Because to determine or conclude which option is best, we must need to first examine the advantages and disadvantages of each one.  Take, for example, a congregation that is very small in size, the expedient thing to do for the members might be to assemble in someone's home. However, if such a congregation were one hundred Christians or so assembling together, most likely it would not be expedient to meet in someone's home since it would be very inconvenient to accommodate such a large number of people, and it would certainly have very few advantages. Now, under different circumstances, the expedient thing to do would be to rent a building or even construct one.  It boils down to the circumstances!  To do God's will on any God-given obligation, it is vital to use good human judgment or reasoning to some extent.  When God specifically commands us to do something giving us instructions, there is no need for human judgment.  Do not misunderstand my point!  I must stress that God does authorize some things very specifically or explicitly.  Thus, we must not consider it a general matter, for there will be room for human opinion.  When God specifies, man has no choice but to obey or disobey. In matters specified, faith demands complete obedience to the Lord. Let me explain myself by using a biblical example.

    • The Law of Christ orders the church to assemble on the first day of the week to observe the Lord´s Supper:  (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 11:23-33)

Is it lawful to set a time during the week for Bible study?  Many congregations have met on Wednesday nights for years with little change.  What is the difference?  The Lord's Day assembly is mandated by Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1 and Hebrews 10:25.  The other times of Bible study are profitable but they are not mandated by Scripture.  We have authority given in Scripture to assemble on Sunday to observe the Lord's Supper, that is, to remember His death and resurrection, and to “lay by in store as we have prospered.”  Is the church given a law as to what hour to meet on the first day of the week?  No.  So again, the issue is what is expedient.  In I Corinthians 11:23-33, Paul said that when we come together to eat the Lord’s Supper, we should wait for one another.  Notice that this is an action to be done together as a church.  They need to do it when the body can come together as one, Romans 12:4-5; I Corinthians 12:14-7.  What this means is that each member of the body is thinking about what is expedient, beneficial or profitable to the other members of the body.

    • Another Example is God's Command to "Sing" (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16):

God at times modifies what He says by adding restrictions within the context or in other passages.  In Ephesians 5:19, we are commanded to "sing."  We would be limited to singing with many decisions to make if God had stopped with that specific.  We could be free to use country music, pop, and opera.  However,  God has specified saying, "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" by adding those explicit details to limit us.   Again, when God told Noah to build the ark, He didn't leave it at that, for He added specific details about the kind of material, dimensions and other things needed.  Those specific details were vital to God.  He didn't want Noah to make these decisions, perhaps because He knew Noah was not able to do make such decisions.  Thus we conclude that specific instruction can only be altered, modified or limited by adding other specific details.  God's Word is always in harmony with His will and must remain that way!

Instrumental music is not allowed and is not an aid to "singing," for it is an "addition" to God's command.  It is not included in the scope of what God has authorized.  Some believe that it is expedient for a congregation to use mechanical instruments of music in worship even though God has not authorized it in the New Testament.  Any church that pleases God must be willing to give them up to please Him.  There are many differences and divisions in the religious world over the use of instrumental music in worship to God. We cannot resolve these differences by appealing to traditions, customs, creeds, dictums or personal preferences.  There must be mutual harmony between us and the Law of Christ when it comes to religious matters.  Differences can only be resolved and unity can be achieved only when we do everything in harmony with the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 3:16).  So, where do we find our standard of authority?  From the Word of God alone, for the Word of God is Truth (John 17:17).  The Bible is the only authority in all matters pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). We must not approve any belief, doctrine or practice except that which is authorized or inscribed in the Scripture of Truth (Dan. 10:21)!   We are commanded and forbidden to go beyond what is written in all matters of faith and practice (2 Jn. 9; Gal. 1:8-9).
 "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of ("by the authority of").   

God's Word is our only religious authorityWe are commanded to properly apply all Bible principles to our beliefs, doctrine, and practices to determine whether or not they are of heaven or of men (Matt. 21:23-27).  Of course, this certainly includes the practice of instrumental music in worship to God.  Again as I mentioned earlier, God uses two different kinds of authority.  He sometimes authorizes practices under generic authority, and at other times He is very specific.

For example, the great commission says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk. 16:15). Now, notice that God is silent about the means by which we may "go."  This is an example of generic authority. Why?  Because God uses the general command to “go,” and use various methods to travel from one place to another to accomplish the work of evangelism. These methods are called “expedients.” We must understand that all expedients must first be “lawful” within themselves to be acceptable to God (1 Cor. 6:12). First-century teachers used various methods of traveling which included walking, riding on animals, riding in chariots and sailing on ships. Today we have the choice of driving a car or flying.  Either way, we are still “going” to do what God commands us to do.

However, God’s authority is not always general. He sometimes gives specific commands or instructions intended to regulate our actions.  God's specific authority must limit us to do what God has said, excluding other practices within that realm of possible activity. Thus, when God is specific about a particular action, every other practice must be excluded. For example, back to Mark 16:15 where Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Jesus specifically commanded us to preach the Gospel, not history, chemistry or geometry!  Jesus excludes everything in that class by specifying the kind of information we need.  We are to preach the Gospel, not the Law of Moses, our opinions or human creeds.  It is easy to understand this simple principle!  The best example of specific authority is illustrated in the account of Noah and the Flood.  As I mentioned earlier in my study, Noah was given specific instructions for the building of the ark.  God was very specific about the kind of wood Noah had to use (Gen. 6:14).  In Genesis 6:22 and 7:5 we are told that Noah did “everything” just as God commanded.   Noah respected God’s will, even in areas of specific detail. The Bible calls this faith.  And just as there are many kinds of wood, there are also different kinds of music:  vocal and instrumental.  But God has already specified the kind of music He wants and that pleases Him. Despite the differences in practice among the many churches of men, along with an abundance of arguments being made over this issue, there are only two simple questions that all Bible believers must answer.   First, is the authority for church music general or specific? Second, if this authority is specific, did God specify vocal music or instrumental music? The answer to these questions is clearly revealed in the New Testament.

      • The New Testament on Music:
  1. Matthew 26:30:  “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
  2. Acts 16:25:  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
  3. Romans 15:9:  "So that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name'.'"
  4. 1 Corinthians 14:15:   “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.”
  5. Ephesians 5:19:  “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”
  6. Colossians 3:16:  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
  7. Hebrews 2:12:  "He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.'"

We must stress that every Scripture specifies singingThe Law of Christ is specific about the kind of music that God authorizes in worship to HimWhen we add instruments, we are adding to the Word of God, violating God's specific instructions or commands.  Those who add to God's sufficient revelation will not enter heaven (Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19).  Period!  Some might say, "Didn't people of God use instruments of music in the Old Testament?"  Yes, but the Law also required animal sacrifices, diet restrictions, a priesthood, a high priest, worship in Jerusalem, Sabbath worship (including travel and labor restrictions), mandatory tithing, annual observance of the Passover (including the smearing of goat or lamb blood on the doorposts), mandatory annual observance of many feast days, mandatory circumcision of all male boys, capital punishment even for ceremonial offenses, no intermarriage with other races and a host of other requirements.  So for those who make an authoritative appeal to the Old Testament, must ask themselves, “Which Old Testament practices do we roll forward and which ones do we leave behind?” The apostle Paul plainly answers this question in  Galatians. He made a simple argument stating that if anyone wished to return to the Law of Moses for religious authority, he then is bound and obligated to follow all the Mosaic Law as his religious authority!

According to Galatians 5:3, he who uses the Old Law to bind circumcision is “a debtor to do the whole law.”  Earlier, in Galatians 3:10, Paul declared "For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them'"  Thus, anyone who returns to the Old Testament! Those who look to the Old Testament for modern religious authority are “looking to the end of that which was abolished.” (2 Cor. 3:13-15). We are now under the “New Covenant” (Heb. 8:7-12). God has made the first Covenant obsolete (Heb. 8:13).  Period!

Therefore, God has legislated against the use of mechanical instruments of music, in worship to Him. His Word has specifically decreed vocal (acapella) music as the kind of music that must be used to praise Him and please Him. These specific decrees or commands eliminate the use of any other kind of music in worship to God. The fact that the Old Testament allowed mechanical instruments of music in worship is irrelevant!   And though God allowed the use of a harp to make melody under the Old Testament, He now commands that we make melody in the  “heart” (Eph. 5:19). We are “under the Law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21), for He is the head and Savior of  His church (Eph. 5:23). Therefore, we must abide by His majestic and universal authority.  God's authority will not be destroyed even when we disobey His commands! The need for them to be obeyed will never come to an end.  When we disobey God's commands, we are disobedient to Him.  From Adam and Even until our present time, there have always been people who refused to obey what God had commanded them, either on purpose or by neglect.


    • Missionary Society And Sponsor Church Arrangement:

In the 1800s, the controversy over the Missionary Society in doing evangelistic work began.  Some thought it was a great idea for Christians to spread the Gospel better to the lost.  So they decided to create an organization commonly called a "missionary society."  The purpose of such an organization was to set up an arrangement to pay preachers, print Bible materials, distribute tracts and other evangelistic works.  But for the missionary society to perform all this, they would need to be funded by local churches from their treasury.  This arrangement would allow several local churches to send money to one controlling board of officers, which would then, in turn, use the money for evangelism. The controlling missionary society governs all the work, chooses the evangelists and directs where they are to go and what they are to preach. Many churches rejected the authority of this board of directors as unscriptural but kept the idea by giving the same type of authority to the elders of a local church called “the sponsoring church.” This arrangement was mostly seen in the national radio and television program, the Herald of Truth.  So, the result of this was one local church accepting money from many other local churches to pay for a nationwide radio program.  Sadly, these types of arrangements are still seen and being made today to pay for the high cost of television or any other source of evangelism.  Unfortunately, there are many problems that arise with these unauthorized worksWhy? Consider them.
  1. In the first place, this work destroys the autonomy or self-government of the local church and causes the elders of one church to surrender their authority to the central sponsoring church eldership. 
  2. There is no Bible authority for doing this.  
  3. The advocates of this organization have tried to authorize it under generic authority who have abused and misused Matthew 29:19
  4. The only functioning organization that is authorized in the New Testament is the "local church," that is God's only "missionary society."  
  5. The local church is authorized to use methods and make choices about carrying out the Gospel Message, that is, the work God has specifically commanded the church to do.  
  6. We are not authorized to create groups of churches with a common creed and denominational name. 
  7. We must not create organizations such as the Missionary Society to compete with the local work of the church, disregarding the work God has given the local churches to do over such organizations. 
  8. It is like adding "strange fire" or "looking for another river."

My question is:  Is there any Bible authority for churches sending money to another church to do the work of evangelism?  If there is one, I challenge you to give me one!  The answer is a big NO!  There is no authority at all for any local church to use its money to create another organization to do its work of evangelism.  And though these efforts may have very good intentions, there is no Bible authority for them.  These works violate the autonomy of each local church.  Why?  Because it is the missionary society (the organization) the one that decides Bible materials, paying a preacher's salary, etc. instead of a local church.  It is a purely man-made organization!  The sponsoring church violates Bible authority when they send money to another local church, leaving her without the right to choose how to use the money.  When a local church does this, she has given up her authority to another one.  And this is not Scriptural, for each local church must be autonomous!  In the case of the missionary society and the sponsoring church arrangement, an organization is formed that is larger than the local church.  The New Testament talks about the local work of each autonomous church without headquarters, convention, or someone else telling another local church what to do.  Period!  Such organizations such as these violate God's authority for elders to oversee only their own work.  I can prove this with 1 Peter 5:1-2 that admonishes the elders saying,
"Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly."  

You see God has only charged the elders of each local congregation to oversee, that is, take charge of the affairs of the local congregation in their area.  The problem with the so-called sponsoring church arrangement is that the elders, overseers, of the controlling church, have total control over everything that each local church is doing in the Lord's work.  They are violating God's command given in 1 Peter 5:1-2!

So, what is the primary problem with the so-called missionary society and sponsoring church arrangement?  The greatest problem is one church (usually a large city church) manages the treasuries of other local churches (usually smaller country churches). Now, would there be any problem with a wealthy man who creates an organization to help pay the salary of a preacher to do the Lord's work in other areas?  No!  Any individual person who has the monetary means can do this without any problem.  Another question.  Can any individual person give money to this rich man to help send money to other preachers?  Absolutely, yes!  Each of us has the right to give money to those who need it.  The problem with the missionary society is that they violate the autonomy of each local church when they use the treasuries of other local churches, thus subjugating them to the missionary society.  Another question.  Can this rich man help financially with a radio program to evangelize, spreading the Gospel?  Yes of course!  Any individual person can do this without any problem.  Can this rich man be sent money from another individual to help keep this radio program?  Yes, for each individual has the right to use his money the best he can.  I must stress the main problem with the so-called missionary society and sponsoring church arrangement is the abuse of the treasuries of the local churches.  We have this principle illustrated in Acts 5:4.
"But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.'" 

Our money is our own until we give it to the Lord. Each individual Christian is free to choose at his discretion to spend his money on anything he wants or he can choose to help a preacher.  You see there is a big difference between what each local church can do and what each individual can do and we must acknowledge this.  Can I as an individual rent any place to play basketball or any other sport, and invite my friends to play and speak to them about the Gospel?  Absolutely!  Can a local church do that to spread the Gospel? No, for there is no authority for any local church to use its treasury to do such a thing.  Can I, as an individual, have a garage sale and use my profits to perhaps help a preacher in another country or city? Absolutely! Can any local church sell lottery tickets and then use the money to send to preachers? No, for there is no Bible authority for any local church to do this. Can I have a great banquet at my home and invite all my friends who are not Christians and use this opportunity to teach the Gospel Message?  Absolutely!  We see Matthew doing this in Luke 5:29Can a local church have a great banquet and invite people to come as an opportunity to teach them the Gospel?  No! Why not?  Because the Bible does not authorize the treasury of each local church to use it in things such as these.  Any individual Christian can use every opportunity to teach the Gospel while at parties, entertainment, or any such civil event to save those who are lost, but the local church cannot use the Lord’s treasury to pay for the parties.  Period!

Each individual Christian can do whatever things they choose to do with their own money.  But this is not the case with the local church.  So if any Christian wants to meet at a park, home, restaurant and talk to his friends about the Gospel, it is okay as long as it does not use the funds of any local church to create a restaurant, sport complex, or theater of entertainment, for there is no authority in the Bible for that.  We must stress that the church, the one that our Lord purchased with His own blood, is not an institution nor is it a denominational group of churches organized under a charter or creed. It is not made up of many local churches.  The church in general consists only of people.

Therefore,
  1. The Lord's church consists of all those saved individuals from the day of Pentecost to our present time from all over the world. 
  2. The church is made up of the dead and alive in Christ, Matthew 16:18 and Hebrews 12:22-24.  
  3. Again I must stress that each local church in the New Testament was autonomous, worked independently from other local churches and made their own decisions, not another controlling “mother” church.  

So before any local church can do anything, there must be authority from God.  This is a very fundamental principle throughout the Scriptures. In 1 John 3:4 we read that
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” 

Sin is defined for us as acting without law. When we do anything without the authority of God, we are committing sin.  In Matthew 7:21 the Lord Jesus said,
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.'"

Thus, we cannot claim to do things in the name of God without His authority. We may deceive ourselves thinking that we have the approval of God or His authorityIf God does not authorize what we do, it is lawlessness and not the will of the Father.  In Mark 7:6 Jesus said,
 “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” 
We may deceive ourselves thinking that we are serving God, but when we lay aside the Law of Christ and His authority, we are disobeying God and are worshiping Him in vain.


In Acts 8:4 we find an example of the work of local evangelism.  It is not difficult to find the authority to preach the Gospel.  Evangelism must be the focal work for each individual Christian.  In Mark 16:15 the disciples were commanded to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  In Acts 8:4, we have another example during the persecution of Christians, “therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Individuals must be active in evangelismEach local church has been given the authority to evangelize the lost as well as each individual  (1 Thessalonians 1:8).  Here Paul commended the Thessalonians for their work saying,  “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out so that we do not need to say anything.”  The church in Thessalonica was sounding forth the Word of God in every place. The church in Thessalonica was doing the job that Christ had entrusted them to do!

In Acts 13:1-2 the church in Antioch sent out Barnabas and Saul to spread the Gospel in some other places.
  1. Here we see that a local church has authority to send out workers to teach the Gospel anywhere. 
  2. The local church also has authority to use its church treasury to help teachers by supporting Paul while he preached in Thessalonica. 
  3. Thus, each local church today has this authority also.  

In 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 we see that many churches were supporting Paul while he was doing the work in Corinth. Here we see that many local churches have the authority to send support to a Gospel preacher.  In 1 Timothy 1:3 Timothy was to remain in Ephesus to do the work. We also see in Titus 1:5 that Titus was to remain in Crete to set things in order, to help appoint elders in every city. So it is evident that there can be workers to work in a local church to do the Lord's work.  Paul then gave the command in 1 Corinthians 9:14, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” Those who work for the Gospel have the Scriptural authority to be supported for the work they are doing.  But we must stress again that nowhere in the New Testament do we find any authority for one church to send money to another church to do the work of evangelism.  And is there is one, I want to know!  I don't see any church sending money to another church to preach the Gospel. In Philippians 2:25 Philippi had sent a messenger to give monetary support to Paul.  But Philippi did not send the money to the local church in Thessalonica to pay him!  The same is true of the church in Corinth, 2 Corinthians 11:7-9. The support from other churches did not go to the church in Corinth at all but rather it went directly to Paul.  We can see the principle of the church autonomy upheld in this action.

There is nowhere in the New Testament that a local church engaged in the affairs of another local church. Each local church was able to do the work of evangelism in its area. God specifically commanded that the elders' oversight and functions be restricted to the local church (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).  Therefore, it is not "expedient" for the elders of one church to oversee the members, monies, or work (or any part thereof) of another church!  It is unlawful and sinful! It does not fall within the realm of what the Lord authorized the elders to do.  It cannot be Scriptural expediency, for it represents another kind or class of organizational structure!  The church is the only organization God authorized to preach the Gospel (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 4:12).  A Missionary Society and sponsoring churches are not an aid, for they are not within the scope of that which God has authorized. The Missionary Society and sponsoring church arrangement are an addition (another kind or class) to the organization established by God.  They are organizations built by men, to do the work God gave each local church to do. Therefore, it is unlawful!


  • For Something to be Expedient, It Must Edify:  (1 Cor. 10:23-33; 14:26).
“Let all things be done for building up.”

When we come together our faith must be encouraged and strengthened by the Word of God.  Since Satan is always at work to attack our faith, it is vital that we assemble to rebuild and strengthen our faith so that we may grow stronger in the Lord. "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up."  (1 Cor. 14:26).  Here we notice that there was singing during the assembly.  This passage implies that someone led the assembly in the singing of a hymn or song.  Likewise, it is implied that there was someone giving instruction, a revelation of the Word of God (reading the Scriptures) and teaching.  The purpose of these activities during the assembly was to build up the body of Christ.  In 1 Cor. 10:23 we notice that the Corinthians continued to stand on their freedoms when they said,  “All things are lawful.”  They thought that just because something was permissible that meant that it was beneficial and edifying for them or others.  The key here is verse 24 which is a consistent message in this section. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”  And just because something is lawful, that does not mean that it is good for others. Christians are commanded to do what is good for others, forgetting about ourselves. In verses 25-27, Paul stated concerning food, "Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof."  So it was idolatry to eat in the idol’s temple, but it was not idolatry to buy and eat food without questioning if it was part of an idol’s sacrifice or ritual. Verse 28 states the problem of doing this.  If an unbeliever sees this food as part of idol worship, then he shouldn't eat for the sake of the one who told him that.  It is important to acknowledge that the one who is saying this is not just saying it randomly because most meats came from an idol’s temple. We must stress that was just first-century life. 

They were making a religious point about the food and under these conditions, for they couldn't eat because of their false understanding of gods and idols.  So, it is as if Paul was trying to reason with these brethren saying, "Just because your conscience is not defiled by eating meat that has been offered to idols doesn't mean that everyone else can say the same. If you love, you will consider your brother and act accordingly! I am willing to give up eating meat if it will help prevent my brother from stumbling spiritually."  Indeed, Paul is advocating the law of brotherly love. The law of brotherly love is more concerned about a brother's eternal soul, for his soul is worth more than our own personal satisfaction! My brother's soul is worth much more to me than my own food or some other expedient!  Period!

No Christian should force his opinions and personal rights on another Christian to cause strife and disturb the peace in the church.  Peace is vital, and no Christian is allowed to cause needless confusion and conflict.
  1. Christians must "pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding."  
  2. Christians are commanded to eagerly "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  (Eph. 4:3).  
  3. To edify is to build up one another in knowledge, faith, and righteous living.  
  4. Confusion does not build up or edify one another, for it builds up nothing but strife and divisions in the church.  
Since Ephesians 4:3 encourages all Christians to seek peace and mutual edification, does that mean that Romans 14 justifies and tolerates contradictory teachings and practices regarding important moral and doctrinal issues?  According to some brethren, that which makes for peace is what they call "unity in diversity," even in matters of "faith."  
  1. When God's Truth is at stake, a good soldier of Christ will fight the good fight.  
  2. He will contend earnestly for the faith without traditions, opinions, and customs.  
  3. A good soldier of Christ will not encourage another Christian in questionable practices.  
  4. He will not push his own opinions, judgments, views, ideas or scruples, under any circumstances, about lesser and unimportant matters.  In doing this, he might become a stumbling block to the one who is weak in the faith and thus destroy his faith.  A Christian is the work of God.

It is important that we acknowledge that though the law of brotherly love must be our primary focus, it does not mean that we Christians must give up the Truth or those things that are matters of faith.  Those things that we must do to obey the will of God to please Him regardless of what others might say about them (baptism, instrumental music... ).  But when it comes to eating meat, I must give preference to the conscience of my brother, for I would rather stop eating meat or give up any practice if necessary and not wound his conscience.  Thus we must not abuse our liberties if that causes my brother to stumble.  Take heed!  Today we do not have anyone with conscience problems about eating food that has been offered to idols (since our culture does not engage in the same type of idolatry that was dominant in Corinth in the first century).  But that does not mean that it is irrelevant today.  Remember, the New Testament is full of principles that must be applied even in our present time.  Our freedom is not governed by the whims or ignorance of others, for we are not bound by the consciences of others. The Corinthians did not go to someone's house to ask them what they thought about eating meat before they ate it. We know it was just meat and the idol is nothing. So sit down and eat without questioning. The problem is when the person makes a religious belief about it. Think about it! Imagine if we had to know the conscience of each person before we do anything, we wouldn't be able to do anything!  We cannot be controlled by what other people might think. We are on the alert only when they tell us what they believe when there might be a danger of us encouraging them to violate their conscience.  Our freedom does not depend on what others mistakenly think. Otherwise, we would have no freedom at all!

So we must use our freedom wisely according to the will of God. Paul is not trying to erase the freedoms that we enjoy in Christ. Paul never declared that we have no freedom to do anything in Christ so as to be paralyzed.  But if someone tells us how they feel about doing certain things because of their conscience, then we have a different issue. There must be parameters about using our freedoms, for we do not want to cause anyone to sin.   We must never use our freedom to harm the Gospel Message or confirm a false worldview about God.  So, if a thing is a matter of choice or expediency (falling into the realm of human wisdom or judgment ) and its practice causes division in the body of Christ, it is sinful and wrong!  When God commands, we must obey despite the consequences, even if it divides us.  If doing God's will requires it, men have no choice but to obey! This is seen in the action of the apostles (Acts 4:18-20; 5:29). But if the action is a nonessential, that is, God leaves the choice to our wisdom, demanding that which destroys unity and peace among God's children, we sin.  Take heed!


  • For Something to be Expedient, It Must Not Put a Stumbling Block Before My Brother's Conscience:  (1 Cor. 10:32; Rom. 14:13-23).

This rule governs only in matters of expediency, where God has not specified, where God's will permits the liberty of a choice according to human wisdom or judgment. We must forsake and sacrifice our personal liberty rather than lead a brother to sin by violating his conscience when he participates in that which he believes to be wrong (1 Cor. 8:7-13).  And though expediency involves the right of choice, within the realm of that which is authorized in the New Testament, it is not a source of authority.  Any practice that changes the kind, or class, of thing authorized, cannot be claimed as an expediency, for it will be an addition and therefore sinful or unlawful.

Everything that we do is for the glory of God.
  1. If we eat or drink or whatever else we do, God should be glorified in what we are doing (10:31). 
  2. God needs to be glorified in our lives no matter what we are doing. 
  3. There is no freedom or action that we can participate in that would dishonor God. 
  4. We must use our freedom to show our love for God. 
  5. We are to be lights in the world, showing people God, not anything else. 
  6. We must treasure God, not our freedoms.  
  7. We must not shipwreck anyone's faith (10:32). 
  8. We must not do anything to destroy our brother's faith, causing him to fall away from the Lord.
  9. Our sins hurt many other people, not only directly but indirectly. 
  10. We certainly hurt people directly, which we often do not think about when we sin. 
  11. My sin hurts you. Your sin hurts me. Our sins hurt each other! 
  12. We can lead each other and encourage each other to sin through our sins.  So we must not use our freedom to sin nor use it to cause our brother to lose his faith.  
  13. We must not seek our own advantage or rights, but rather seek the good of others (10:33).  
  14. Our primary focus must be to build up each other's faith, giving them spiritual knowledge.
So, what valuable lessons can we learn from Romans 14 about brotherly love or getting along in matters of indifference or opinion?
  1. That we are free from the slavery of human opinions.  Hence, it does not matter if we eat or abstain from certain foods. It does not matter if we keep or do not keep certain days.  
  2. They are not matters of "faith," but matters of opinion (things neither commanded nor prohibited). 
  3. They are convictions not based on "faith" but on the opinion of a brother (Romans 14:5, 22).  
  4. They are not matters of "faith," but things neither commanded nor prohibited. Both are acceptable (Romans 14:3).  
  5. God welcomes, receives or accepts both (Romans 14:6).  Each one practices his belief for the Lord.  "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean."  (Romans 14:14).  These practices indeed are not unclean in themselves.  "So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil."  (Romans 14:16).  The practices of such things are good.  "Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats."  (Romans 14:20).  All things that are mentioned in this context are clean and are not sinful practicesAnd since these are things that are neither required nor forbidden, we must not contend about them and despise or judge one another.  God does not care if we eat or not, or if we keep days or not!

We must not cause anyone to stumble (put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother, Romans 14:13, 15, 19, 20, 21). An example of being a stumbling block would be to insist that the weak brother eat pork or work on Saturday. This would be a stumbling block to him because in doing so he violates his conscience and this is a sin (Romans 14:23).  Our conscience is our guide in such matters since one is convinced in his own mind (Romans 14:5; 22, 23). So, the weak brother must not violate his conscience.  The apostle Paul was very concerned that the brethren in Rome not judge one another over matters of opinion where the Bible did not give specific commands.  There are commands that Christians must never disregard:  carousing and drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and sensuality, or strife and jealousy (Romans 13:13).  But there are other matters that the Bible does not condemn and allows liberty of conscience.  Concerning this, Paul exhorts us repeatedly not to judge and show contempt for one another (Romans 14:1,3,4,10)Instead, we must accept, receive, and welcome one another, just as Christ has accepted us (Romans 14:1,3; 15:7).  As Christians, we must accept and not judge one another over matters of indifference or opinions where the Bible has not given any specific commands.  It is crucial that we stress again that in Romans 14 Paul is talking about matters between believers who are seeking to please the Lord.  Christ is very concerned that all Christians get along with one another despite the inevitable differences of opinion among us.  When we refuse to heed this, the unity of the church is at stake and in danger!  We need discernment to determine whether a matter is doctrinal, crucial to the Gospel and vital to a Christian's spiritual health or whether it is relatively minor.  Sadly, Christians often create greater divisions over minor issues than they do over doctrinal or moral issues.  We fail to be examples of love to the world.  That's sad!

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat again, lest I make my brother stumbleLoving each other involves setting aside our rights on matters of opinion, for one knows this will please the Lord.  However, in matters of doctrine, the Gospel, brotherly love demands something different.  And though we must be gentle and kind, it does not require that we give in to the conscience of another.  For example, baptism is not a matter of indifferenceThe New Testament teaching regarding baptism must not be compromised, even to please someone or to avoid offending someone.  God does not expect us to submit or surrender to false doctrine or teaching.  This is why it is crucial that we distinguish between matters of indifference and matters of doctrine or faith.

The following are a few examples of how we must judge in matters of expediency.


ESSENTIALS AND EXPEDIENCES

Commandment 

 Essentials
Expediences 
Teach 
Matthew 28:18-20 
Gospel 
Class - public/private 
Baptize 
Mark 16:15,16 
Immersion in water 
Running water (river, lake, ocean)
Artificial (Pool, baptistery, bathtub) 
Lord's Supper 
Matthew 26:26-29 
 Elements: unleavened bread, fruit of the vine
Table
Containers
Trays 
Assemble 
Hebrews 10:25 
First day of the week 
Length of service
Time to assemble
Place to assemble (own/rent)
Order of worship 
Giving
1 Corinthians 16:1,2 
 First day of the week
Freewill offering
Proper attitude
Metal plates
Baskets
Checks/cash 


CONCLUSION:

This has indeed been a profitable and very needed study for me.  I always marvel at God's jewels found in His Word designed to perfect us and make us more into His image.  The beauty of God's Word is its simplicity. Without the Word of God, there is no Light for us (Isa. 8:20).  Christ is our Light (John 8:12) that guides us to live a better life dedicated to God's service.  God's Word is a lamp to our feet that is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

In the Bible, we find three ways of authority:  authority through direct command, necessary inference, and approved examples.  Direct commands are direct expressions of God’s will. In James 2:11 we find an example of this. “Do not commit adultery” A necessary inference means that we must come to an obvious conclusion based on the information given by God.  In Acts 10, we are given an example of necessary inference.  Peter sees a vision in which he was commanded to kill and eat unclean animals. This was done three times in that vision. Peter had to make the necessary inference from his vision that he was to speak to Cornelius, a Gentile. God never mentioned to Peter to go to Cornelius directly, but it was what he inferred from the message of his vision that he must understand.  Example is simple enough to understand. If in the New Testament we see that Christians performed a certain action, then within those boundaries, we are also authorized to perform those actions.  In Acts 20:7 we are given an example of the first century Christians in Troas partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Therefore, we have authority to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week.  God commands us to be submerged, buried in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4). Since God has not specified the place to baptize, a baptistery may expedite the accomplishment of God's will.  Thus, a baptistery is an expedient. Sprinkling for baptism is not expedient, for it is not lawful, and does not aid to accomplish the will of God.  It involves another kind, or class, of action. Therefore, it is a substitution for that which God commanded to be lawful.

These issues and teachings in the New Testament are simple to understand when one examines the context.  The apostle Paul also deals with similar issues in Romans 14.  Unfortunately, some have tried to teach this principle to justify matters of doctrinal error in the church:  matters such as instrumental music, fellowship, and all other elements that destroy the purity of the church and the Gospel, for they are not matters of expediency but destruction.  We must make sure that we are doing all things to edify and build one another up in the most holy faith (Jude 20).  Accordingly, elders are given the task of feeding the church of God, Acts 20:28.  This does not mean that they are to abuse their authority by destroying the purity of the church, but rather to expedite their teaching and feeding with the Word of God and His divine authority.  This is the only way to radiate unity.  Paul's concept of feeding and edifying the church was absolutely not by means of fleshly “expedients” such as entertainmentIt is not Biblical expediency!  Elders must take this seriously!  Why?  Because all decision-making must be done according to His will, His doctrine and not our will.  So let us be careful that all the work of the church is truly expedient and not just recreation.  And though elders have been given the responsibility to “feed the church of God” (Acts 20:28), this charge does not imply destroying the purity of the church or the Gospel, but rather expediting teaching and feeding according to the will of God that will manifest unity (Ephesians 4:3).  Elders must decide what is most expedient for the congregation, but it must be based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17).  Paul said that the Romans were established by the Gospel of  Christ that they would continue being established by it (Romans 16:25).  Unfortunately, we have many churches today that feel that entertainment is a part of the edification.  But this was not Paul’s concept of feeding the church and surely not a matter of Biblical expediency!  We must be very cautious!

Expediency is all about dealing with matters of opinion.  It is all about making righteous decisions based upon the will of God.  This is a matter about God’s will (doctrine) and not my will.  We must make very wise judgments when it comes down to how we expedite expediencyThe way we treat one another in these matters will determine how sound the church really is. We live in a society that doesn’t understand this principleWhen we are continually debating and splitting hairs over small matters, we lose our balance.   We must maintain balance in all matters. We must read and study our Bibles individually to make the right applications for every situation.  We may rest assured that if we do this, the unity of the Spirit will permeate the church and our personal relationships with one another.  Our sanctification is maintained only through the knowledge of God, through His Word.  That knowledge must keep growing, for that is the ultimate expediency (John 17:17; II Peter 1:2-11; 3:18)!

Freedom in Christ means that we have liberty in every aspect of our life.  Yet, we must not be slaves to unrighteousness and we must not abuse such freedom.  Christians must voluntarily restrict their own liberty because of love for others! God calls us to unity. He desires no divisions (cf. I Cor. 1:10; John 17:20, 21). We must imitate Christ (11:1) as seen in the example of Paul. There is nothing more against the example and love of Christ than living for ourselves and harming others.  Jesus sacrificed Himself, suffered harm and loss for the sake of the world. Paul has told the Corinthians about how he did not take advantage of the many rights he had, even rights commanded by God like receiving pay for preaching the Gospel, in order to sacrifice himself for their sake. Paul imitated the life of Christ and we are to imitate Paul because he imitated Christ. Sacrifice yourself for others! Give yourself to others! Live with the concern for the spiritual welfare of others.  Remember, that everything that we do in word and deed must be for the well-being and benefit of the church, the edification of the body of Christ and their holy faith, Jude 20.

Christians often make unwise choices because of their liberties.  They forget the enormous impact that they may have on others, especially those who are weak in the faith.  We must take this seriously because we might be the stumbling block that causes someone to do wrong, even as we exercise our liberties, I Cor. 8:8-9 Paul is even warning us, to not let our knowledge and by extension, our example encourage a brother to violate his own conscience which is weak for lack of knowledge.  Paul strongly calls this a sinWhy?  Because the moment that you do that, you are wounding the conscience of the one who is weak or is lacking in understanding, I Cor. 8:12; Romans 14:23Let us be careful not to “shed innocent blood!”  Let us be diligently careful in matter of opinions that will cause the weak brother to stumble or sin.  Our focus and intent must be that of building up the body of Christ in the most beneficial and loving way according to the divine pattern of the Law of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Galatians 6:1-2.  So, if our choices will cause another Christian to stumble, we are to restrict our liberty, I Corinthians 8-10.

Hence, let not our righteous stand in liberty become unrighteous by causing one to stumble.  This is not to say that we are going to stop teaching all Truth just because someone thinks it is offensive and causing him to stumble.  The teaching of the Truth is not controlled by the conscience of others, but by the revealed Word of God (II Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 4:12).  One cannot stop teaching what needs to be taught just because some might be offended, Matthew 15:1-14.  For instance, some misuse our Text by using it to justify all matters of doctrinal error in the church.  They attempt to justify matters such as instrumental music, fellowship with sin and such issues whose main target is to destroy the purity of the gospel and the work of the church.  Sin and false doctrine destroy and do not edify, they are not expedient!  Everything that we do in word and deed must be for the well-being and benefit of the church, their faith and the edification of the body of Christ.

So, are we using our freedom to disregard what's good, beneficial or profitable for our neighbor? Are we denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Jesus for the benefit of our neighbor and the glory of God?
"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor."  (I Corinthians 10:23-24).
Let us not allow our liberties to judge one another, but rather let us choose in our hearts to never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother, he whose heart wants to serve God.  Instead, let us use our liberties to pursue peace and mutual edification, lest we destroy the work of God!  Let us be more concerned about the well-being of the souls of others than our own rights, or our opinions that condemn the weak in knowledge.  Let us not deceive ourselves by trying to find excuses to seek unity in the diversity of false doctrines.  Let us take to heart the true message of Romans 14, which is to put aside our liberties (things that are lawful but not required) that we may not wound the conscience of others.  Let us exercise what is truly expedient and let us have the mind of Christ, Philippians 2:1-8.

May the Lord help us to always do what is expedient to the salvation of our brethren while reverencing the sacred authority of Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Luci