Vol.XX No.III Pg.4
May 1983

Conveying The Message

Robert F. Turner

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 dont help with cleaning their rooms don't get to go outside and play. You all are not helping clean up your rooms, so..." 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 would think the kids were deaf.

Finally, in a tone of voice that can no longer be ignored, mother 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, we must necessarily infer, we must make 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 God's will?

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 teach 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 our 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 that the teaching methods in the epistles are no different. Inspired men urged 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 Thss. 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 revelation and establishing authority for religious practices should pose no problem to the man truly desiring to know and do the Father's will.

David Smitherman