The Expository Files

Conveying The Message

It's Saturday morning, the children are watching TV, their rooms are a mess, and mother needs their help in getting things cleaned up. The problem? How to convey that message and, hopefully, not incite a riot.

Mom has an idea. She begins by setting an example: doing what she wants them to do in hopes that her example will be followed. No luck.

Another approach is taken. This time mother makes a necessary inference: She says, "Children that don't help with cleaning up their rooms don't get to go outside and play. You children are not helping to clean up your rooms..." The kids just change positions on the couch.

But mom doesn't give up. She makes a simple statement: "Your rooms need to be cleaned up and I need you to help me." You'd think the kids were deaf.

Finally, in a tone of voice that can no longer be ignored, mom issues a command: "Get up from that couch, turn off the TV, and help me clean up your rooms." Success at last.

Example, necessary implication, statement, and command. What other forms of communication could this mother have used in order to cause these children to understand what she wanted them to do. What other forms of communication are available to all of us as we seek to cause others to understand what we want them to know and do? "Getting the point across" means we must set examples, make implications or statements, or give "orders."

A man is reading his Bible, wanting to know what God's will is. His desire is to know what kind of conduct meets with God's approval. But how is this man to know what God wants done and how he wants it accomplished?

As he reads the life of Christ and notices His teaching methods, he soon realizes that Jesus communicated His will to others in various ways. When He wanted to each about humility He set an example of one way in which it could be demonstrated (Jo. 13:15). He used necessary inference when teaching important truths about Himself (Matt. 22:41-46). When talking about entering the kingdom of God the Lord made a simple statement (Jo. 3:3-5) and, when giving the Great Commission to the apostles, He gave commands (Matt. 28:18).

This man also sees this same teaching method in the epistles. Inspired men urged the following of examples (Acts 20:35; Phil. 3:17); taught by necessary inference about the priesthood of Christ (Heb. 7:11-17); made statements about what baptism does for us (Gal. 3:27); and gave commands regarding disciplinary action (2 Thess. 3:6).

Examples, necessary inferences, statements and commands: God communicates His will to us in the same way we communicate ours to others. Thus, understanding God's will and establishing authority for all of what we do (Col. 3:17) should pose no problem to the man truly desiring to know and do the Father's will.

By David Smitherman
From Expository Files 15.9; September 2008