Necessary Implication

By P. J. Casebolt

There are those who do not feel that the Scriptures can imply a thing strongly enough for us to act with authority. They argue that one thing is implied to this person, while something different may be implied to another. While this may be true of the doctrines and ideas of men, this is not a necessary implication (there is that term again!) to draw pertaining to God’s word. Man is not wise enough, nor is he able enough, to express every idea so that every person gets the same impression. I believe God is able to convey ideas to His creatures in such a way that they can understand Him, and that these ideas are not just contained in the Scriptures-they are the Scriptures, revealed by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-16).

Jesus laid out a certain set of circumstances, with various parts and pieces, then asked a certain man to reach a particular conclusion. Even an insincere lawyer, with questionable motives, was forced to the necessary conclusion that the man who showed mercy was being neighborly (Lk. 10:25-37). Other questions recorded in the Scriptures are so expressed that there can be only one implication, or inference. (See Mark 8:36, 37 and 1 Pet. 4:17, 18.) Not only are there many questions such as these, but also plain declarative statements of inspiration which permit only one inescapable (necessary) conclusion. But, these have been quoted time and time again, often by those who still claim they do not believe in the principle. Some concede the principle is taught in the Scriptures, but doubt that it has any binding force. Well, let me use a teaching technique which may get you to see what I mean. That is just a fancy way of saying that I am going to slip up on your blind side. There are some people who are blind on both sides, even as I have been at certain times in my life, so maybe you will get the lesson before you “see” it coming.

Cow Pasture Parable

No, this is not the same thing as “chimney corner scripture.” This actually happened, and there are people yet alive who can verify it. It has long been contended that one can leave a false impression by what he does not say, as well as by what he does say. One can even imply an untruth in such a way that people form an erroneous conclusion. Take the case of misleading advertising, for instance.

Several of us were playing softball in a cow pasture. A girl came to bat, and asked me the location of first base.. Now, there are things in a pasture besides rocks and sticks. The Bible calls it dung. I never said a word, but walked over and stood beside some of this stuff, and in a dried condition I guess it did have the appearance of first base. Anyway, there was no danger, because this girl always struck out anyway. Everybody knew that. I even walked back toward second base, and sat down on the ground to talk with the second baseman. He suggested weakly that maybe I should tell her where the real first base was, but even he knew she would not hit the ball anyway. But, she did. And, she headed for what she thought was first base!

If you ask me personally sometime, I will tell you the rest of the story. But this is enough for you to get the lesson that one can tell a falsehood by the principle of necessary implication. Now, my question is this: if one can teach an untruth by this principle, why cannot he teach the truth with it? Again, the necessary implication is unescapable: you can.

But, someone will say there is more room for confusion using this principle, than if we used an approved apostolic example. I do not know. While it is true that this latter method is binding, and plainly understood as far as I am concerned, yet there are still others who contend that even an approved apostolic example is not binding unless accompanied by a direct command. Even these ignore the command to observe such an example (Phil 4:9).

Yet, there are others who claim we cannot understand anything except a direct command, and in the absence of such we have no authority for anything we do. Then, you still have those who cannot seem to understand even a direct command, else there would be more people who teach and submit to baptism as an essential part of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16).

I am persuaded that there are people who will never understand what God wants them to do, regardless of how He tells them, or how plainly He reveals His will. Since the atheist does not want to listen to God any of the time, maybe there are those who just want to listen to God some of the time.

Truth Magazine XXII: 27, pp. 441-442
July 13, 1978