Lucia's Blog: 2019-06-23
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Friday, June 28, 2019


 “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 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 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.


To understand the subject of expediency, we must 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 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 as “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 first understand 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: 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 unwilling 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 other personal relationships through His Word.


  • 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, it is excluded by God's authority.  Thus, 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 what 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 expedient, even if we deceive ourselves into thinking they are good. Take, for example, what David did when he used the ox cart to move the ark of the covenant. It was not right, whatever he might have been thinking (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.  It fails to be expedient when we add to, take away from, or substitute for God's Word and His ways.  It is not a matter of expediency, for it is a transgression against God's will.  Anything outside 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 Scriptures.
"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 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.  Edification can occur when love and knowledge or understanding are interwoven, 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, Paul was trying to avoid 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.  Without proper explanation and instruction, a weak brother or sister 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, human judgment, 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 or human judgment 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, human judgment.  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 addresses some issues 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 or saying that will never compromise the Truth.  Just because we may do or say something 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 offendedWe 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 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, many would charge us of being "legalistic."  Why?  Because if one 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 Christians anymore.  They say that we are free to do as we please because Grace covers usSo 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.  In the Law of Christ, there are doctrines, rules, and commands that we must 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 provocatively?  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 and 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 tells 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 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 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 we find ourselves brought under the control of fleshly or worldly things at any given moment, we must choose to cease from it.  We must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Thus, 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 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 must not allow anything to control us except our Lord 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 what 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 the most expedient way to carry out the Lord’s will.

    • Noah And The Ark:  (Genesis 6:13-16)
God specified "gopher wood" to construct 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 be 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 the most expedient way to carry out God’s will is.

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 most expedient or advantageous options 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 what 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, we must 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 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: 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 the Bible cannot support.  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 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, in the New Testament, the Law of Christ, God authorizes via direct statements, examples, and implications.

    • 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 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 we must have a place to assemble, do we have 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.   Acts 12:12 tells us that some Christians assembled in houses by the same token. 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 concerning 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 Bible study times 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 we should wait for one another when we come together to eat the Lord’s Supper.  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.  This means 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 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 the Law of Christ and us regarding 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 of 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 information we need.  We must 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 building 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, which pleases Him. Despite the differences in practice among the many churches of men and 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 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 an excellent 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 must go and 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, many problems 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 authorized in the New Testament is the "local church," which 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 a "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 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 a preacher's salary to do the Lord's work in other areas?  

  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, 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?  

  • 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? 

  • Can any local church sell lottery tickets and then use the money to send to preachers? 

No, 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? 

  We see Matthew doing this in Luke 5:29.  
  • Can a local church have a great banquet and invite people to come as an opportunity to teach them the Gospel?  

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 churchSo 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, sports 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.

  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.  

The following are some questions a brother in Christ asked regarding the missionary society and sponsoring church arrangement since he wants to do what is right to please our Lord.  

  • First question: "Are the brethren who participate in these things sinning and therefore going to hell?"
My answer:  The question ought to be, What does Jesus want me to do? We study the Scriptures to understand the pattern of living and worship that Jesus left us because He is Lord, and His Will must be our command. If we disobey His Will, that is called sin. How will God judge us in each case is not for me to say because He is Judge and not I. However, He leaves us with many warnings about the Day of Judgment
  • Second question: "If I am part of such a group and the Missionary Societies support me monthly with a certain amount of money to preach the good news about Jesus, how do I free myself from them?" "If I succeed in freeing myself from them and they no longer support me, should I quit preaching and find a secular job to take care of my family?"
My answer:  The Bible gives us examples of a church supporting an evangelist working in another city (Philippians 4:14-20; 2 Corinthians 11:8). We know that is right. The churches communicated directly with the evangelist. The evangelist is accountable to the churches that support him, and if any of them see you doing or teaching something that they believe is wrong, they can withdraw their support. If the evangelist sees one of the churches that support him doing or teaching something wrong, he can refuse to accept their support. In the case of a missionary society or sponsoring church, another group of overseers stands between the churches and the evangelist. He is accountable to them and not to the churches that actually provide the support. Those overseers have usurped the authority that the supporting churches have. Why can you not communicate directly with the churches that provide the support? Do they not know you? Will they insist that you have fellowship with them through this missionary society? 

Historically, such boards of governors have commanded the preachers they support, telling them where to preach, what to preach, and how to live with an authority that Jesus nowhere gave them. If the churches will not support you directly, it is because they do not accept the simple Bible pattern, and you should seek support elsewhere or get a secular job, but you should never quit preaching. The apostle Paul often found it necessary to work as a tent-maker until he could receive the needed support to devote all of his time to evangelism, but he never quit preaching, Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 4:12.  
  • Third question: "Is there any scriptural authority for a church to use her treasury to pay utility bills?  If there is any, give me the Book, Chapter, and Verse where the Bible authorizes such expenses."
My answer:  This question is usually asked to imply that the churches do many things without Scriptural authority. The Lord clearly authorized the churches to meet together to take the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34), to sing together (Ephesians 5:19), to be edified together (Ephesians 4:11-16). The authority to assemble provides us a general authority to pay the expenses of the meeting place, such as the utilities. Nevertheless, the authority to evangelize and support the evangelists does not give us the authority to violate the order of the local churches. The apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5:1-3 commanded the elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” Their authority does not extend to other flocks or churches that are not theirs. 

Men who are put in authority over the work of other churches violate the apostle Peter’s charge to the elders to shepherd the flock that is among them. The earliest forms of apostasy began with such men as prophesied by the apostle Paul in Acts 20:28-30. The Roman Catholic Church began this way, taking the first step of giving authority to a few men over more and more churches until finally, they had the Pope and the society of the Cardinals governing vast numbers of churches. 
  • Fourth question: "Does the Missionary Society and Sponsoring Church question have something to do with a man’s salvation?"
My answer:  The question should be, Does Jesus care if we ignore His teachings about how the church serves Him? Is Jesus Lord? Does Jesus command His kingdom? Can we disregard His teachings and be saved?  Jesus came from heaven to bring us life and that life is the light of men, John 1:4. The light of Jesus is His teachings, all the teachings that He brought us through His apostles. He built His church, Matthew 16:18, exactly the way He wanted it built. In John 12:44-50, Jesus said, 
"If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” 

Then He said in v. 50, “And I know that his commandment is eternal life.” If there is no life in rejecting His words, then there is only death.

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,
“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 evangelism.  

Each 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 sounded 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 the authority to send out workers to teach the Gospel anywhere. 
  2. The local church also has the 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 stay 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 if 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 instead 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, we must 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 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.  27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience."' 

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. 
"28 But if someone says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience?'"

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 saying this is not just saying it randomly because most meats came from an idol’s temple. We must stress that it was just first-century life. 

These brethren in Corinth were making a religious point about the food 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.  
My question is:

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.

We must 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 my brother's conscience, 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 eating 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 each person's conscience 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 might be a danger.  The danger is that it would encourage 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 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 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 do. 
  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 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 or human judgment 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.  We must 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!  

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!  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.

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 indifference

The 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 we must distinguish between matters of indifference or human judgment and matters of doctrine or faith.

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



Matthew 28:18-20 
Class - public/private 
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
Hebrews 10:25 
First day of the week 
Length of service
Time to assemble
Place to assemble (own/rent)
Order of worship 
1 Corinthians 16:1,2 
 First day of the week
Freewill offering
Proper attitude
Metal plates


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 had to understand.  Example is simple enough to understand. 

If we see that Christians performed a specific action in the New Testament, 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 in accomplishing 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.  

Let us be careful that all the work of the church is genuinely 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, 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 or human judgments.  It is all about making righteous decisions based upon the will of God. It is a matter of God’s will (also known as "doctrine") and not my will.  We must make very wise judgments when it comes down to how we expedite expediencyHow 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 continually debate and split 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 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 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 cautious in matters of human judgments 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 will 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 human opinions or judgments that condemn the weak in knowledge.  Let us not deceive ourselves by finding 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 always to do what is expedient to the salvation of our brethren while reverencing the sacred authority of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.