[Biblemat] The Buckhorn Teacher 12-16-07
thornhill1 at frontiernet.net
Thu Dec 13 10:49:21 CST 2007
THE BUCKHORN TEACHER
"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." 2.Tim.4:2
Buckhorn church of Christ - Thomas Thornhill - editor. 13675 Hwy 341, Randolph MS 38864-9117. Tel. 662-568-2960. Cell 662-419-5378. E-mail thornhill1 at frontiernet.net
Vol.6 December 16, 2007 No.15
MAN'S NEED FOR AUTHORITY - No.10
In the last issue I began a study of scriptural (permissive) expedients and incidentals. At the beginning I wrote the statement that "every command of God authorizes whatever is necessary to fulfill the command." This means that if a command is general in nature where the method of fulfillment is not specified, then man has the freedom to use human judgment in selecting an expedient that is suitable and scriptural (authorized) to obey the command. (See issue 15 - 12/02/07 for definition of a general command and an expedient).
So far we have seen that in order for a thing to be expedient 1. It must first be lawful 1.Cor.6:12; 10:23. Expediency is not the law, but an allowable method of fulfilling God's law. Before a thing can be classified as an expedient it must first fall into the realm of things authorized and lawful. 2. It cannot be specified. If God specifies something to be done, then men have no choice in the matter. It must be done in spite of the consequences. God requires it, and men cannot say otherwise. On the other hand, expedients are matters of choice which brethren utilize to fulfill a command or requirement of God where He has not specified the method to be used. 3. It must edify 1.Cor.10:23; 14.26. The last article ended with this point.
As we continue our study of the latter point we must understand that even though an expedient falls into the realm of human wisdom, if its use causes division and disunity among brethren it would be sinful and wrong to insist that it be done anyway. There are some expedients that brethren are not assured of (they cannot prove beyond doubt in their own mind that their use is scriptural). In such cases it is better to avoid their use than to demand it be used, if such will destroy the unity for which Jesus prayed Jn.17:20-23.
Let me illustrate this with the example of the pitch pipe used by many song leaders to start a song. Some conscientious brethren consider the pitch pipe to be a musical instrument and thus object to its use. They have questions about it. To them the use of a pitch pipe to determine the pitch by which a song is to be started is wrong. Others are just as certain that it can be used because it is helpful in getting the right pitch to start a song. But, in determining the use of a pitch pipe (as with any expedient), the question is not "Is it helpful?" or "Is it permissible (allowable)?" but "Is it necessary?" Its use or nonuse is a matter of judgment and until the question can be resolved in a congregation it is advisable not to use it unless all the brethren in the congregation are of one mind about its use. Sometimes expediencies hurt rather than help a congregation. Many congregations have studied the matter and have come to an agreement that using a pitch pile is a helpful expedient in getting the right pitch and the song leaders there use it, and the brethren do not object to its use. Other congregations have not reached such a conclusion. The brethren there feel it is a musical instrument, and should not be used. The song leaders there avoid its use because it will disturb the unity of the brethren. Even if brethren agree that it is a scriptural (permissive) expedient we must remember, it is only an expedient, and its use is not required to carry out the command to sing "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" in praises to God. People may feel an expedient is helpful and much good can be accomplished by its use, but this feeling, no matter how well intentioned it may be, will not overcome the wrong done if using the expedient brings dissension and division to brethren. So we have to be careful in using expedients.
The fourth thing to note about expedients is that they must not offend the conscience of a brother in Christ 1Cor.10:32. Even if they are helpful and much good can be accomplished by their use, if their use offends a brother they must not be used. We are not to practice anything in the realm of expediency if it causes brethren to stumble. As pointed out previously, if God specifies something to be done, then men have no choice in the matter. It must be done in spite of the consequences. God requires it, and men cannot say otherwise. On the other hand, expedients are matters of choice which brethren utilize to fulfill commands or requirements of God. Their use in expediting obedience to such commands is governed by human wisdom.
In 1.Cor.8:7-13 Paul deals with how we keep from offending a brother. Even though the context is dealing with eating meats sacrificed to idols, the principles taught about avoiding or causing offense to a brother is also true about the use of expedients. Take note that Paul is not speaking of someone who just dislikes what others are doing. Someone can object to something and still not be offended. To cause offense to a brother is to cause him to participate in something he feels is wrong. "But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?...Therefore, if food makes my brother to stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble" vs.9-10. Substituting "an expedient" for "eating of meats" Paul is teaching that in the matter of expediencies we cannot force upon the conscience of others what our human judgment has determined to be right, if it is contrary to their understanding. Until a brother has reached the same understanding we have about an expedient, then we must forego our personal liberty (the right to do something in non-essential matters) until the disagreement has been resolved, lest we cause the brother to be offended and caused to violate his conscience by participating in something he believes to be wrong.
A fifth thing to learn about the use of expedients is that an expedient must not be a substitution for or an addition to what God has spoken. We have already seen that an expedient must first be lawful, fitting into the realm of that which is authorized. Anything that will add to, take from or change the command of God into something beyond which is already authorized is forbidden 2. Jn.9-11; Gal.1:6-9. In the next issue we will discuss how these and other scriptures are applied to the subject under discussion.
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