Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 26, 1950

Law And Expediency

Robert H. Farish, Tarrant City, Ala.

"All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify." (I Cor. 10:23) The "all things" here is not to be stretched to include anything other than those things under consideration. The things under consideration were eating of meats that had been offered in sacrifice to an idol, (I Cor. 8:1) the right of Paul to "eat and drink", marry, and receive support for his labor of preaching. (I Cor. 9 and 10) Certainly, Paul would not include that which was unlawful in his "all things" which are lawful. The eating of a common meal as a guest of an unbeliever is included in the "all things". This was lawful but in certain circumstances would not be expedient—that is, when the exercising of this right would not edify—"build up".

Notice that expediency limits more than law. Expediency never allows more than law. Nothing can be expedient that is not lawful. All things which are expedient must be lawful but not all lawful things are expedient. Before expediency can be claimed for a thing it must be shown that that thing is allowed by law and that practicing it will edify.

Disobedience — Not Expediency

This rule is never to be used in measuring a command of God's. It is to be utilized only within the province of things allowed by God. To refuse to obey a command of God on the ground that it is not expedient is to manifest a distrust in God and is an attempt, consciously or otherwise, to impeach the wisdom of God. The end reached by failure to obey is not edification (building up) but rather is inflation (swelling up). The ranks of the broad way are swelled by disobedience. Many denominational groups have become numerically swelled up by ignoring some of God's commandments on the ground that it was not expedient to press those commandments and require obedience to them. These swelled and swelling figures do not impress God favorably. The Christian church in many places practice "open membership" not because they find such allowable in the law of God but because of so-called expediency. Neither Paul nor any other inspired writer has anywhere intimated that a failure to obey is expedient. To affirm such would be to affirm that disobedience edifies —"builds up".

Walking By Sight (Appearance) — Not Expediency

Those who "went out from us" in the digressive movement succeeded in leading many of the thoughtless, untaught and plain worldly minded into digression with the plea that the instrument in worship and "cooperative efforts" or "missionary societies" all fell into the classification of expedients. However, before these things can be claimed as expedients, it must be shown that they are allowed by God in his law. God has neither commanded them nor allowed them, hence, they are not lawful and must be rejected.

The wisdom of the world, prodded by vain glory, would suggest that institutionalism is an expedient. But this is to reject the walk of faith and wander in the labyrinth of sight. It would be a big stride in the right direction if all of us would rescind ourselves that "we walk by faith not by sight", and that "belief cometh of hearing and hearing by the word of Christ". Nothing can be of faith that isn't found in the word of Christ. Authority for institutions through which the church is to do its work of benevolence and preaching the word is lacking in the word of Christ, hence, is to be rejected.