Apr 04

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In the Bible, there are commands which are specific and there are commands which are generic. That is, sometimes God not only tells us WHAT to do, He also tells us HOW to do it. Such is a specific command. An example of this is the command to baptize. We are told what to do (to immerse) and we are told how to do it (in water). If God had simply told us to baptize and had made no reference to the element of which we were to use, then this would have been a generic command and it would have been left up to our discretion as to what element would be best to use (such as: sand, leaves, milk, water, etc.).
On the other hand God sometimes tells us WHAT to do but does not tell us specifically HOW to do it. This is a generic command. An example of this is the command, “Go ye into all the world” (Mark 16:15). The apostles were told what to do (go), but how to go was left up to human judgment. Thus, they could obey this command by using a boat, car, train, jet, etc. However, if God would have said, “Go by walking,” then this would have been a specific command and the only way to obey God and be pleasing to Him would be to walk to take the Gospel.
In the above example of Mark 16:15, the means of carrying out the HOW to go falls in the realm of expediency. However, it is crucial to understand that an expedient is that which expedites (aids) the carrying out of some obligation which has already been scripturally authorized by (1) explicit statements, (2) implicit statements or (3) approved accounts of action. [Note: Obviously, an expedient must not be prohibited by other Scriptures.]
Unfortunately, expediency has been used as a “catch all” department in which to list anything that is not authorized by any of the other three means of authorization. Some seem to reason, “Well, I realize that we can’t find any verses which teach that we can do this, but it seems to help the cause of Christ so much that it must be expedient.” To reason in this manner is to display a complete and a critical misunderstanding of expediency. If such contention were true, then there would be absolutely no limits to what could be done. By this line of thinking, a congregation could open a bar in a classroom claiming it to be an expedient because it would bring in people whom we could later teach. Someone might say, “We wouldn’t let it get that far. The line has to be drawn somewhere.” But, if the contention is true (that if it helps the cause, then it is expedient) then no line can be drawn! Certainly we can see the error in the attempt to define expediency as anything that seems to help the cause of Christ.
To understand what an expedient is, is to realize that a line has been drawn and that the one who drew it was God. As previously stated: an expedient is that which aids the carrying out of that which has already been scripturally authorized. For example: (1) We have the obligation to baptize. An expedient to this is the construction of a baptistery in the building. First we have the obligation then we determine the expedient. We have the obligation to assemble ourselves together. An expedient is a building in which to meet. (3) Obligation: sing. Expedient: song books, song leader, tuning fork. (4) Obligation: teach the lost. Expedient: film strips; various other methods. Again, first there is the obligation, then there is the expedient. Where there is no obligation, there is no expedient.
Let us be careful that in our zeal we do not become mesmerized and careless so as to go beyond what and how God has authorized (2 John. 9-11). Eternity is worth the effort.
Gary Henson

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