The Golden Isles church of Christ
Volume 3, Number 5
February 2, 2003
Necessary Inference - Part 2
by Mike Johnson
Consider various passages and questions where necessary inference comes into bearing.
1. The establishment of the church. The church was established on the day of Pentecost in connection with the events of Acts 2. The Bible does not specifically say that the church was established then, but from a number of passages, we can necessarily infer that it was (Mt. 16:18; Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8, 2:47; Col. 1:13).
2. Preaching Christ meant preaching baptism. Acts 8:26-40 records the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch by Philip. The text says that Philip joined the Ethiopian in his chariot and "preached unto him Jesus" (v. 35). As they were traveling, "they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" How did he know to be baptized? Certainly, it can be necessarily inferred that "preaching Jesus" means "preaching baptism." (Also note: Acts 2:38; 22:16; Gal. 3:27; I Cor. 2:2/Acts 18:8.) Some erroneously say that people should just "preach Jesus" and quit preaching about baptism ignoring the conversion case of the Ethiopian.
3. The frequency to partake of the Lord's Supper. Acts 20:7 says, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." In this verse, we have an example of the early disciples partaking of the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week. How often are we to partake of the Lord's Supper? We determine this by necessary inference. They partook of it on the first day of the week; every week has a first day; therefore, we are to partake of the Lord's Supper every week. In the Old Testament, the people were told to (Ex. 20:8) "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." Yet, they were not told to remember every Sabbath day. However, that is clearly what was meant. If it is true that no frequency is taught for the Lord's Supper in the New Testament, a person could partake of it only once and would never need to partake of it again having satisfied the command to observe it. It must be keep in mind that the frequency to partake of the Lord's Supper is not taught by direct statement, direct command, or by approved example. There is, however, a frequency taught, and it is taught by necessary inference.
Just as there are certain logical rules to determine when an example is binding, there are certain rules which can prove helpful with necessary inference:
1. If a cause always brings forth a particular result, and the cause is stated, then it must necessarily be inferred that the result followed. As we have seen, the Ethiopian (Acts 8:27-39) was taught and baptized by Philip. But nothing is said about "why" he was baptized. Other passages, however, teach that baptism is "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Therefore, it can be necessarily inferred that when the eunuch was baptized, his sins were remitted.
2. If a cause always brings forth a particular result, and the result is stated, then it must necessarily be inferred that the cause occurred. Acts 18:8 tells us that Crispus believed on the Lord with all his house, but nothing is said about what produced his faith. However, Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing God's Word so it can be necessarily inferred that Crispus heard the gospel just as the other Corinthians had (8b).
3. If the structure of the language requires a certain conclusion itself, though unstated, the conclusion is necessarily inferred. An example of this would be the "frequency" of the Lord's Supper as discussed above. The example of observing it on Sunday would lead us to conclude that it must be observed every Sunday.
Acts 15 records a discussion at Jerusalem about the question of circumcision. Certain ones were teaching that the Gentile Christians had to be circumcised as was required under the Law of Moses (vs. 1, 5). All three forms of Bible authority are employed in this discussion. First, necessary inferences were drawn from events which had occurred (Acts 10:17; 15:6-12, 19, 28). Next, approved examples are cited. It was pointed out that God gave them the Holy Spirit even as he did the Jews (15:8), that they had labored among the Gentiles, and God did signs and wonders (15:12). Finally, direct statements, or commands, are employed. Peter told how he was commanded to go to the house of Cornelius (15:7), and James cited the words of the prophets (15:7).
All three forms of authority can be seen in various aspects of the Lord's Supper. The fact that we are to partake of it comes by command (Mt. 26:26-28; I Cor. 11:24); we learn the day that we are to partake of it by example (Acts 20:7); finally, the frequency to partake of the Lord's Supper (every Sunday) is determined by necessary inference (Acts 20:7).
Necessary inference is a very important form of authority and must not be neglected.
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Are We Lazy Christians?
by Mark J. Ward
We live in a land of luxury today, especially in our American culture: fast food, so many choices, even at our grocery stores, how about our choices for cars, trucks and other forms of transportation today? Anyone needing clothes? Notice that I did NOT ask: Anyone WANT to buy some clothes? <g> It is not wrong, in and of itself, to have nice things and to enjoy them in their proper places.
One concern that I have noticed, and it was recently posed in question form by a good sister in Christ, is that we need to be sure that we dont become complacent, even to the point of maybe being guilty of being "lazy" Christians? The devil is our enemy and wishes for us to get wrapped up in ANYTHING (right or wrong, in and of itself) that would keep us from working in the kingdom of Gods dear Son! Our jobs, our personal projects at home, our hobbies, physical exercise programs,etc are all important, yes and some even required of us! But as we are now in the 2nd month of 2003, look back for a moment to ONLY January 2003...what spiritual activity (lets ask it in ADDITION to getting ready and being involved in the normal services at the local church where we attend) have we engaged in this year? Have we been lazy? On the other hand, what NON-spiritual things (again lets ask it in the context of in ADDITION to normal work hours, normal household chores and responsibilities, but exclude recreation, entertainment and other secular events) have we been involved in in January 2003?
I know we should all take inventory and re-prioritize our activities if we find that we can do more in the work of our Lord. The fields are white unto harvest. We need to be about personal/inward growth in religious matters (reading, studying, meditating, prayer) as well as involving ourselves in spiritual/religious activity towards OTHERS (visiting sick, visiting unfaithful in attempts to enncourage them to repent, asking lost aliens if they will study the Bible with us, etc).
I have to answer the question for myself...as each reader would have to. Am I a lazy Christian? If so, what do I need to do about it? Jesus and Paul wrote about Christians being compared to, "laborers, soldiers, runners, fishers of men, and sowers of the Seed" ( Please read and study Matthew 9:37; 2 Timothy 2:3; I Corinthians 9:24; Mark 1:17; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 13). These are all ACTION oriented descriptions and depictions of our lives (what they are supposed to be) as faithful Christians. Lets do all we can to be on guard that Satan does not deceive us into being complacent or lazy Christians. Thanks for reading! - mjw
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