1. Remember that we are studying how to understand the Word of God. His Will can be understood when we read it (Ephesians 5:17 and Ephesians 3:3,4).
2. To understand the Bible it is important to know that God has spoken to people in three distinct periods of time and that he speaks or teaches through commands and examples. These principles were studied in previous lessons.
3. This lesson is a study of how God teaches us by asking us to do some reasoning or thinking. In Thessalonica, Paul "reasoned with them from the scriptures" (Acts 17:2).
4. God gives us some information from which he expects us to draw conclusions or inferences, so we will study the place of inferences, particularly necessary inferences. God also expects us to use our mind to determine the best way of carrying out what he teaches us to do. This is the area of expediency.
I. DEFINITIONS AND AN ILLUSTRATION
A. An inference is "1.a. The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true. b. The act of reasoning from factual knowledge or evidence." The American Heritage Dictionary
B. Roget's II Thesaurus: "Inference, Noun:A position arrived at by reasoning from premises or general principles. conclusion, judgment, deduction."
C. God asks us to draw conclusions based upon what He has said. See Isaiah 1:18 and Acts 17:2,4,11.
D. Illustration of a necessary inference.
1. Abram and Lot went from Haran into Canaan, Gen.12:5.
2. Abram "went down into Egypt," vs.10.
3. Abram and Lot "went up out of Egypt," Gen.13:1.
From these facts we conclude or infer that Lot also went down into Egypt even though it is not specifically so stated. This is a necessary inference.
II. WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN AN INFERENCE AND A NECESSARY INFERENCE.
A. Illustration 1. It may be reasonably inferred that Lot went with Abram into Egypt but this is not a necessary inference since it is possible that Lot could have gone at a different time than Abram. We can, by faith, teach the necessary inference but we cannot bind the reasonable inference.
B. Illustration 2. John 3:1,2 says that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. Why did he come by night? We can infer various reasons but since we have no other facts in the case we cannot necessarily infer any specific reason and bind this on others as being scriptural.
C. Illustration 3. Lydia and her household were baptized, Acts 16:15. Some have inferred that this is authority for infant baptism. This is an inference but not a necessary inference since all households do not contain infants.
III. LET US NOW NOTICE TWO THINGS THAT ARE LEARNED BY NECESSARY INFERENCE:
A. Authority for a meetingplace. Hebrews 10:25 teaches us to assemble. A place of assembly is necessarily inferred since it would be impossible to assemble without a designated place for the assembly.
B. When the church or kingdom began. In Mark 9:1 Jesus said that some who were then living would not taste of death until they would see the kingdom come with power. In Acts 1:8, the record says that the power would come when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. Acts 2:1ff tells of the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles in the city of Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The necessary inference is that the kingdom came at this time.
IV. AN ILLUSTRATION TO SHOW THAT WE UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE THROUGH THE USE OF A COMMAND,AN APOSTOLIC EXAMPLE, AND A NECESSARY INFERENCE.
Command -- "This do in remembrance of me," 1 Cor.11:24.
Example -- "Upon the first day of the week...to break bread," Acts 20:7.
Necessary inferences --
1. every first day (frequency of observance)
2. place to observe the supper
Conclusion: We have learned that a necessary inference is not a guess or an opinion. It is a legitimate logical conclusion drawn from the facts of a case.
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