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Sunday, May 7, 2017 am                                                        NT Church 2017 Index

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH 2017 (13)
Authority (8)
Expediencies and Additions

 

As we engage in a study of what the Bible teaches about the New Testament church, we have been engaged in an extensive study of how to properly establish authority.  This is important as it helps us understand what we can and cannot do if we are to respect God’s pattern for the church, as well as HOW we can and cannot carry out various responsibilities. 

Having discussed that authority is established in one of 3 ways (C-E-NI), and that there are 2 types of authority (generic [general] and specific), today we want to address a specific consideration associated with generic authority.  By specific authority, we mean something that is specified in such a way as to EXCLUDE all other options (for example – sing, excludes instrumental music; gopher wood for the ark excluded any other type).  By generic authority, we mean something is commanded in such a way as to INCLUDE your discretion in how it is carried out (for example – sing, gives us the option of whether we sing in unison, 4 part harmony, chants, responsive; as Noah built the ark, the tools he used to build it were not specified so he could use his own discretion, etc.).  We also noted that most commands involve both specific and generic authority.  

But there are those who seek to confuse specific and generic authority.  There are some who will argue that unless something is specified, it is not authorized (often this argument is used not because someone is opposed to the use of something, but to justify that which is NOT authorized – e.g. When you show that instrumental music is not authorized they might say, “Well neither is a building or a water fountain).  Others will argue that if something is not specifically prohibited then they are free to do anything they want as generic authority (e.g. “Instrumental music is an expedient to aid us in our singing”, or “the Bible doesn’t say we can’t use instruments, so they are acceptable” or “the end justifies the means”).

In our lesson today we want to talk about expedients (aka “aids”) and additions.  Is there a difference, and if so, what is it?

 I.                     Expediencies and aids

a.       Expediency (aids) – something that assists or helps (is profitable, aids, facilitates, etc.) us in carrying out a given task.  In this case, we seek those things which facilitate or aid us in carrying out the will of God.

The Bible and expediency -
John 11:50, 18:14 – Caiphas advised the Jews that it would be expedient for Jesus to die rather than the nation perish.  (NOTE: This is obviously not authority for us, but an example of how the word expedient is used)
John 16:7, when Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away” (so that the Helper would come) He helps us see what we are talking about.
Hebrews 12:10 speaking of how God disciplines us and compares that to how our earthly fathers discipline us.  He notes, “but He disciplines us for our profit (our good – NASB, ESV), that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23 – the word “helpful” is the same word.  We will address these passages more in a moment. 

b.       Addition – to add to, join to something else. To increase or join something to something else.    This isn’t just an aid in carrying out a command, rather it is adding something not found in the command.
For example – 2 Samuel 6:6-7 - the new cart that David used to transport the ark that resulted in Uzzah’s death was an addition to God’s command, or a substitute for God’s command.  It was NOT an expediency!  Exodus 25:12-14, Numbers 4:15 (the sons of Kohath were to transport it).   notes how the ark was to be transported.  David repented – 1 Chron. 15:11-15 – and the ark was properly brought into the city.
Consider also the warning of Revelation 22:18-19 – if anyone adds to the words of this prophecy.
Deuteronomy 12:32 – under the old law, “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
Matthew 15:3-9 – when Jesus was challenged for not keeping the traditions of the fathers, He rebuked them for ADDING to God’s command and tus they made the commandment of God of no effect

 II.                   Application

a.       Singing – expedients would deal with the types of songs we sing, using a song book and song leader, a pitch pipe so that we can all sing comfortably.  The number of songs in a service is also based upon expediency.  (NOTE: While we typically have a set order – i.e. tradition – for each service, it is not compulsory.  To add or remove a song or change the order of the service would not be condemned.)
INSTRUMENTAL music is NOT an aid or expedient, it is an ADDITION!

b.       Assembling – Hebrews 10:25 we are commanded to assemble.  Since the number of times is not specified (though we MUST meet on Sunday at least once), we are at liberty to assemble as often as is expedient.  Furthermore, the command to assemble implies a place – of which we have many different examples in scripture (Acts 5:12 – at Solomon’s portico in the temple; In Ephesus at the school of Tyrannus – Acts 19:9-10, Troas – in an upper room – Acts 20:7-8; in homes – cf. 1 Corinthians 16:19; at a place OTHER than in a home 1 Corinthians 11:22, 34; etc.) – so by generic authority we have authority for a building AND all the amenities associated with it – including a water fountain, a bathroom, pews, electricity, running water, etc.  These are expediencies to carry out the command.

c.        The work of the church - As we study what the work of the church involves (evangelism, edification, some benevolence and worship) – whatever we do to FACILITATE this work is LIMITED to the work.  This is why you find no authority in scripture for a fellowship hall, gymnasium, etc.  These become ADDITIONS as they are designed to facilitate works NOT authorized by the church.

d.       Baptism – by command and example we have established baptism is to be immersion and FOR the remission of sins.  WHERE we baptize is a matter of generic authority.   We can baptize in the ocean, a river, or in someone’s pool.  A baptistry in our building is an expedient, as is a pump to keep the water circulating and sanitary.
To change the mode of baptism or the purpose would be an ADDITION to what we learn about baptism in scripture.  Sprinkling and pouring are a different TYPE of using water.

 III.                 Rules for expediencies –

a.       First, an expediency must be lawful.  1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23.  Twice, Paul emphasizes the need for something to be lawful.  NOTE in the texts he is not saying you are free to do whatever you want.  He is speaking of that which IS lawful (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Colossians 3:17).
IF something is not lawful, there is no discussion about how to do it!
An expediency cannot be an addition or a substitution for what is commanded.

b.       Expediencies CANNOT change the force or effect of what is commanded or authorized – what is commanded has to be respected.  When God specifies, we have no authority to change.  By definition, if something is specified, that eliminates all other options.
Anything we do needs to respect the boundaries of what is specified – 1 Corinthians 4:6.
For example: Consider singing in our worship.  Instrumental music CHANGES the force of the command to sing.  BUT, at the same time – to use a song book, song leader, pitch pipe, etc. does NOT change the effect of the command to sing. 
Example: We are to partake of the Lord’s Supper together.  Using containers and trays to distribute the containers does NOT change the force of the command.  BUT, to use soda and cake is ADDING to what God has specified and changes the command.

c.        Expediencies involve options or choices – they are non-essential and unspecified.  You are at liberty to choose doing something a certain way, but there may be other ways to fulfill the command. 
Example: In teaching you MAY use PowerPoint, or a workbook, but you don’t have to.
You MAY choose to use a pitch pipe, but you don’t have to.
Thus when it comes to expediencies we need to ask, “What is the best way to accomplish this task in an authorized way?
And along with this, we should respect brethren who choose to do these things in a different way (provided they are respecting God’s boundaries).

d.       Expediencies must edify –1 Cor. 10:23-24 – the term edify means to build up.  This is a work accomplished by the church when doing what it should do.   We will address this later when we examine the works of the church.  1 Corinthians 14:26, addressing our worship, Paul specifically noted, “Let all things be done for edification.” 
This also applies to our responsibilities as individuals.  In the text of 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Paul is noting that in using expedients, we should consider how it builds up the body (edifies).  

e.       Expediencies must not offend the conscience of a brother – 1 Cor. 10:25-33.  To offend doesn’t simply mean to hurt one’s feelings, rather the word means to cause one to stumble (note: acting and speaking recklessly and hurting one’s feelings CAN lead to this). 
In our text here Paul is concerned about how one’s personal rights to do something are done without thinking about how it affects others.  That is why you need to think before you act and in deciding what you are going to do.
Romans 14 describes how our personal conduct must be such that we do not offend brethren who differ with us in matters that are not directly commanded.  Examples in this chapter include observing days and eating meats (or not doing these things).  Either way, Romans 14:14-15 notes that while nothing is unclean within itself (of those matters that are not sinful), if your brother is grieved, you are not walking in love.  Vs. 19 says, Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

f.         Expediencies should not be self-serving – 1 Cor. 10:23-24, 33, Philippians 2:3-4 – along with the previous point, we need to be willing to yield and think about each other. 
Remember, the purpose of what is do is to build us up AS THE BODY, not just me as an independent part (think of the arrogance of 1 Corinthians 12:21 where the “eye” says to the “hand” I have no need of you).  I think of the ungodliness of Diotrephes (3 John 9-10).
Since expediencies are not compulsory why would we bite and devour each other over such things? (Galatians 5:15)
NOTE: This matter is a two-way street.  There are some who will SELFISHLY demand that things be done their way noting that it acceptable to do so. (e.g. “We’ve always done it this way and it works fine.  I’m not going to change that now!”)  They might appeal to how offended they will be if you do it differently.  Some bully brethren or even congregations into stagnation because they are unyielding in matters of expediency and liberties. 
The point is, when you can do so without compromise, why not yield to another?  HOWEVER, is it fair when all the yielding is one sided because of selfishness?

g.       We CANNOT bind an expediency!  Again, consider Romans 14 in matters of personal liberties.  Vs. 10-13 note we will stand in judgment for ourselves and thus we must not put a stumbling block in our brother’s way.  Romans 15:1, we who are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of the weak.

 

It is important that we understand what authority is and how to properly establish authority for what we do.  When we reject God’s pattern, when we add to what He says, substitute it or subtract from it, we are turning to a different gospel which is not another.   Let us resolve that all we do will be in the name of the Lord.   How important is His will to you?