"And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." (Colossians 3:17)
It matters not what we say or do as the church of Christ, we are to be subject to
the head of the church, Jesus Christ, doing those things by his authority (in his
name) (Ephesians 5:23-33). Belief and/or action in any generality or particular,
must be based not upon what others feel, or believe, but upon the everlasting
Word of God, "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in
the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:5). "All scripture is given by the
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16,17). The power of
God, the gospel, provides the man of God with "all things that pertain unto life
and godliness"; all authority to accomplish the good works God would have us
engaged in (2 Peter 1:3; Romans 1:16). If we speak of religious matters, we must
be careful that we "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11).
It is not within the perogative of the Christian or the church to ignore the authority
of God. Neither the Christian nor the church may disregard the commands of the
Lord and fail to fulfill them; neither may they minimize the importance of that
authority by adding to the commands of God the commandments and doctrines of
men. The Christian or the church that fails to obey the commands of God is
disobedient and lacking in the love that they ought to have for Christ (John
14:15). The Christian or the church that adds to the commandments of God is
guilty of presumption and disrespect for our Lord, refusing to reverence and fear
God (Matthew 15:7-9). God at no time in the history of his dealings with mankind
has been pleased with either disobedience or addition to his commandments.
From the first division of the Bible to the last, God has warned mankind through his
Word against these corruptions of his commandments:
Deuteronomy 4:2 -- You shall not add unto the word which I command you,
neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the
commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
Deuteronomy 12:32 -- What thing soever I command you, observe to do it:
you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Galatians 1:6-9 -- I marvel that you are so soon removed from him who called
you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but
there are some who trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But
though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than
that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed [anathema]. As
we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto
you than that you received, let him be accursed." (see also 2 Corinthians
2:17; 4:1-7; 11:4,13)
2 John 9-11-- Whosoever transgresses, and abides not in the teaching of
Christ, has not God. He that abides in the teaching of Christ, he has both the
Father and the Son. If there comes any unto you, and brings not this
teaching, receive him not into you house, neither bid him Godspeed: for he
who bids him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Revelation 22:18,19 -- For I testify unto every man who hears the words of
the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall
add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall
take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away
his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things
which are written in this book.
See also 1 Corinthians 11:1,2; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2:2; 3:14; 2 Thessalonians
In the face of these commandments, warnings and exhortations, surely the
Christian and the church of Christ see the great need to abide within the authority
of God's word, not daring to add to the commandments of God nor taking away
Biblical authority is established in three different ways: 1) Direct Command, or
Implicit Statement; 2) Approved Apostolic Example; and, 3) Necessary
Inference. All authority is derived from one of these groups. A Direct Command,
or Implicit Statement, is a command that says specifically to do something or not to
do something. An Approved Apostolic Example is an example of the early church
with the approval of the apostles. Necessary Inference is those things which are
necessary in order to carry out what is commanded of the Word of God.
The authority from each of these categories takes the form of one of two
categories: 1) General Authority; and 2) Specific Authority. General Authority
gives the what of a command, but leaves it to human judgment the most expedient
means of accomplishing the command. Specific Authority defines the means as
well as the what of the command.
Expediency cannot go beyond the Biblical authority of a Direct Command,
Approved Apostolic Example or Necessary Inference.; or violate the General or
Specific nature of a command. Nothing can be an expedient which does not carry
out a command of God. It is not an expedient if it makes a general command
specific, or a specific command general. An expedient cannot violate or create a
command: it must allow for compliance with a command.
Apostolic Example is not necessary for something to fall into the category of being
a lawful expedient, and neither does the expedient have to necessary. Examples
of this are meeting houses and Bible classes.
There is no apostolic example of any congregation owning or renting a meeting
house. Neither is there a necessity for a meeting house. A meeting house is not a
necessity! The church can assemble without one. A house, a barn, or a field of a
member would meet all scriptural requirements for assembling. Yet, the meeting
house is an accepted expedient because it neither adds to nor subtracts from the
command to assemble, but allows for compliance with the command (Hebrews
10:25). Yet, there is a very real problem of meeting houses being abused by
becoming show places instead of houses of worship in multi-million dollar edifices
instead of simple, comfortable buildings.
Bible classes do not have an approved apostolic example. Neither are Bible
classes a necessity; teaching in fulfillment of all scriptural commands could take
place without them. Yet, Bible classes are an accepted expedient, because they
neither add to nor subtract from the commands to teach, but allow for compliance
with the command (Matthew 28:18-20; etc.).
The same reasoning that is used to justify meeting houses, Bible classes,
uninspired literature in Bible classes, song books, pitch pipes, etc. (those things
which we accept as lawful expedients) must be used to determine the acceptibility
of any generality or particular before us. It must allow for the carrying out of a
Direct Command, an Approved Apostolic Example, or Necessary Inference,
without the adding to or subtracting from the command. There must first
be a command before there can be an expedient. This also means a respecting
of the silence of the Scriptures.
However, just as meeting houses, Bible classes, etc. (those things which we accept
as lawful expedients) are permissable to use, to demand that they must be
used is wrong. For in demanding that they must be used, human opinion is
elevated to inspiration, and human doctrine is established the equal of Scripture.
Conversely, those who have in the past (and continue to do so in the present)
opposed expedients as unscriptural elevate their opinion of matters of allowable
human judgment to inspiration and their objections to the equal of scripture.
Specific authority cannot be made General, nor can General authority be made
Responsibilities and duties cannot be ignored, nor can we enlarge the
responsibilities of the church or the Christian according to the scripture.
Therefore, we need to exercise extreme care and caution in determining the
acceptability or the unacceptability of anything classified by ourselves or others as
an expedient to be sure that we remain constant in our reasoning.
May we ever have before us the command of Jesus to Peter realizing the same
restrictions apply to us.
"And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever
you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven: and whatsoever
you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)
Jesus instructed Peter that those things which were to be bound upon men were
those things bound in heaven, and that those things which were to be loosed from
men were those things loosed in heaven.
May we never seek to bind more upon men than God has; and never seek to
loose men from more than God has.
"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is
able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are
sanctified." (Acts 20:32)