Today we will conclude our study on Bible authority. Thus far we have learned that whatever we do in word or deed must be done by the authority of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). Therefore, it is imperative that we be able to determine from the Scriptures what can and cannot be done by the Lord's authority. We have concluded thus far that the Bible authorizes explicitly via direct statements and examples.
Let us now consider IMPLICATION, and show that the Bible also teaches and authorizes in this way.
Implication is sometimes more difficult to understand because it involves proper reasoning with regard to explicit statements that are made. Let me give you a simple example of implication to illustrate how it works. My son Adin is over three feet tall. I'm just a fraction over six feet tall. When I stand next to Adin, it is obvious who is taller. I once met a former professional basketball player who towered above me as I stood next to him. Now, by using implication, we can draw the conclusion that since I am taller than Adin, and the former professional basketball player is taller than me, then the basketball player must also be taller than Adin! We can know that such is the truth even though they will probably never stand next to each other. Even though you were not explicitly told that the basketball player is taller than Adin, you know that he must be since he is taller than me, and I am taller than Adin. Yes, we had to use some reasoning to draw that conclusion, but God expects us to use the minds He has given us both in our daily lives and when we study His word. I should also emphasize that truths taught via implication are just as factual and authoritative as those explicitly stated.
Let us consider some verses from the New Testament that teach some truths explicitly and others implicitly. Acts 18:8 - "Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household..." There are three things we can learn explicitly from this sentence. (1) Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue. (2) Crispus believed on the Lord. (3) Crispus' household also believed on the Lord when he did. Is there anything implied in this sentence? Yes! It is implied that Crispus first heard the gospel proclaimed before he believed. How can we know this when the text doesn't explicitly state it? We know because of Romans 10:17 and implication. Romans 10:17 declares - "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Before Crispus could develop faith in order to obey the gospel, he must have first heard the good news. We can know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Crispus heard the gospel, even though Acts 18:8 does not mention it explicitly. We know it is true implicitly!
Another example of implication is found in Acts 22:16 - "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." In this verse, Ananias speaks to Saul. There are several things explicitly taught here, but can you see what is implied in this verse? One implied truth is that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus when he talked to Jesus. Most denominations teach that he was, but they've drawn a false conclusion that cannot be supported. How is it implied that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus? It is implied because of the way Ananias speaks to Saul. Saul is told that he needs to wash away his sins! Therefore, it is implied that Saul is still in his sins at that moment, which also means that he could not have been saved when he talked to Jesus on the road to Damascus. Think about it: If he was already saved at that point, then he would not still be in his sins! Do you see how we have examined the direct statements, and how we have been able to conclude without any doubt that our conclusion is correct? The New Testament implies that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus. We can know this just as certainly as if it were explicitly written in the Scriptures!
There are countless other examples we could look at if time permitted, but I think you understand the point I'm trying to make here. When an action, fact, or teaching is absolutely demanded by the Biblical information at hand--without being specifically stated--then that action, fact, or teaching is a matter of implication. The New Testament definitely authorizes and prohibits certain things by implication. So, to summarize thus far, we know that God, through the New Testament, authorizes via direct statements, examples, and implication.
Finally, God authorizes via EXPEDIENCY.
What exactly is expediency? When God gives an obligation in general but does not specify all of the specific details for fulfilling the duty, then man must weigh the available options and decide which choice is most advantageous for accomplishing the general obligation--that is expediency (as I am using the term). Allow me to clarify this definition with some examples.
Hebrews 10:25 teaches that Christians should not forsake the assembling of themselves together. Now, let's use the minds that God has given us. If we are not to forsake the assembly of Christians, what does that imply? It implies that God has given us the authority to have an assembly, and He expects Christians to assemble together. We are obligated to assemble together to worship God and stir each other up unto love and good works. Now, since we are required to assemble, what does that imply? It implies that we must have some place to assemble! That is essential, but do we have any choice or options regarding the place we use to assemble together? What does the New Testament say on the matter?
Acts 20:7-9 gives us an example of Christians assembling in a building on the third floor. Acts 12:12 teaches that some Christians assembled in houses. There are other verses we could consider. However, it seems obvious that since Christians did not always gather together in the same type of place that God has granted the authority for His children to choose what kind of physical structure (if any, cf. John 4:21) that they will gather under. In this matter it is clear that assembling together is essential, but where we assemble involves considering various options. There are at least five options with regard to an assembling place: (1) Buy a building, (2) Rent a building, (3) Construct a building, (4) Meet in someone's home, or (5) Meet outside in the open.
Now, just because we have five options does not mean that all of them are expedient. In order to determine which option is best, one would need to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each. For instance, if a congregation is very small, the expedient thing for them to do might be to assemble in someone's home. However, if there were one hundred Christians assembling together, it probably would not be expedient to meet in someone's home because there would be a lot of inconvenience, and certainly not many advantages. Under different circumstances, the expedient thing might be to rent a building or even construct a building. It really depends upon the circumstances!
Human judgment is always involved to a certain extent in the fulfilling of any God-given obligation. I cannot think of a single obligation where God has given instructions so specifically that there is absolutely no human judgment involved. Now, please do not misunderstand me on this point. God does authorize some things very specifically, and, when He does, we cannot consider it to be a general matter where there is much room for human opinion. Let's consider a biblical example for clarity.
NOAH AND THE ARK
Genesis 6:13-16 reads - "And God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.'" God was very specific in His instructions to Noah. Every one of us should recognize that He told Noah what type of wood to use (i.e., gopherwood). Now, let's use the common sense that God has given us. If God had not been specific, then Noah could have used any type of wood he wanted, right? Yes! If God had said in general to use wood to make an ark, then Noah would have had the authority (by expediency) to use oak, pine, birch, or whatever kind of wood he thought would work best. However, God did not give Noah that choice; God was specific in authorizing gopherwood.
It is true that God did not tell Noah not to use these other types of wood. He simply instructed that gopherwood be used. God specifically authorized gopherwood and no other kind of wood. Thus, had Noah decided to use pine, he would have been in error. Friends, there is an exceedingly important principle to be learned here. God does not have to prohibit everything He does not want us to say or do. All He needs to do is authorize that which He wants us to say or do and we must not go beyond the authority He has granted!
As a side note to consider on this point, can you imagine how large the Bible would be if God had to specifically prohibit everything He did not want us to say or do? We would not be able to carry it, that's for sure! We must respect the silence of the Scriptures and only say and do those things that God authorizes. That is what Colossians 3:17 teaches! We must not attempt to justify anything that God has not authorized by simply telling ourselves that the Bible does not explicitly prohibit such. When we have questions about whether or not we should do or say a certain thing, we should not ask, "Where does God prohibit it?" Instead, we should ask, "Where has God authorized it?" It is not enough to show that the New Testament does not condemn a certain activity; that type of thinking does not work! What does work is showing that God has authorized a particular thing by direct statement, example, or implication. And, within these three ways to authorize something, the realm of expediency must also be considered.
So, if Noah would have used any other wood instead of gopherwood (or in addition to it), he would have gone beyond the authority God had given him and sinned.
Do not forget that human judgment is involved in all obligations that God has given us. Stephen, where is there any human judgment involved for Noah when he built the ark? It seems that God was pretty specific. Yes, God was specific, but He still allowed Noah to use his human judgment in numerous ways in order to fulfill the obligation to build the ark. For example, did God specify where to build the ark? There is no indication that He did. Noah could have built it in his backyard, on top of a hill, or anywhere else that was large enough. God gave Noah the obligation to build the ark, and, in order to fulfill that obligation, he had to choose an appropriate location to build the ark. Now, under the circumstances, I doubt it would have been expedient for Noah to build the ark on top of a hill because he would have been required to haul a lot of wood up there somehow. And that brings us to another question: Where was Noah to get the wood? There is no indication that God specified where. Noah could have bought all of it, but that probably would not have been expedient due to the cost for that much wood. He probably had to go out and cut the wood. Now that brings up other matters of human judgment. How are you going to cut the wood, Noah? Are you going to use a hand saw, or are you going use a chain saw? Now of course, Noah did not have a chain saw, but you see my point. Even when God was very specific there were still many decisions to be made by Noah concerning the construction of the ark. There were many optional matters that had to be decided, and hopefully Noah chose the options that were most expedient or advantageous for him. Of course, all the choices he made had to be in harmony with the general and specific obligations that God had placed upon him. Noah did not go beyond that which God had authorized Him to do. Genesis 6:22 - "Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did."
Allow me to summarize our discussion of expediency with this statement: God authorizes by expediency when He authorizes something by direct statement, example, or implication, where man must make human judgments in order to fulfill the obligation. It is imperative to understand, however, that if God specifies how an obligation is to be carried out, then the method is just as binding as the obligation itself. If God had told Noah where to get the wood, how to cut it, and where to build the ark, then none of these things would have been matters of expediency. But sometimes, as in the case of Noah, God gives obligations and before man can please God by fulfilling them, man must make some common sense choices first.
Friends, I hope you realize how important it is to understand how the Bible authorizes. If one does not understand such, he will not be able to know whether the things he says and does are authorized and therefore pleasing to God. Before we can say or do a certain thing, we must first have the authority from God to say or do that very thing! "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Col. 3:17). Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.