There are some other things, pertaining to just what is a command we are to obey, that the bible student needs to keep in mind when studying the scriptures. The first type of command, the one that is the most obvious, is the direct command. This is when the scriptures tell us outright what we should do and we should be ready to obey.
An example of the direct command is found in Acts 17:30 when Paul makes the statement “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:” Since this command applies to all men everywhere it applies directly to us. We are all commanded to repent.
Another example is Mark 16:15 when the apostles are commanded: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” We must differentiate here, however, that even though this is a direct command it is given to the Apostles and does not apply directly to us today.
We as individual Christians are not commanded to preach to the entire world, but it should be noted that it is implied in this text, that we should make an effort to see the gospel spread to other parts of the world if we are able. We are not commanded directly to spread the gospel to the entire world; it was the Apostles who were tasked with this by Jesus. Still, we should support the work of the church where we are a member if it is able to do such a work.
This brings us to another type of command found in scripture and that is the inference. This is when we read a passage that implies something that God would have us do. The scriptures are full of examples of this type of command, especially in Jesus’ ministry because He often taught through parables or other illustrative means.
A good example of this is found in Mark 16:16 when the apostles are told that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” From this we can infer that in order to be saved we must believe and be baptized because the statement implies such, although it does not directly command it. The implication still has the full weight of a command and we are to obey it.
Another example is the story of the prodigal son told by Jesus(Luke 15:10-32). When the son who had obeyed and stayed loyal to his father throughout is reprimanded by the father for not wanting to welcome the repenting son home, we can infer that we are to welcome repenting brothers (and sisters) back into the fold when they repent, as we can see by the story that God the father does. It is implied by the story that we are to do so, although it is not directly commanded. It is still is a command that we must obey.
Another type of command in the scriptures is the necessary inference. We are commanded by scriptures to assemble ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25), but we are not told where to assemble. It is a necessary inference that we must have a place to assemble and so church buildings are authorized to be paid for out of a church’s budget.
Another example is that we are told to partake of the Lord’s supper every first day of the week and we are told what elements are to make up the supper (unleavened bread and fruit of the vine), but we are not told what to serve these elements in. It is a necessary inference that we are to use something and so we serve the elements in individual cups and a serving tray, ect.
Another example is that we are commanded to teach the scriptures but not told exactly how to do so. Thus bible studies are held at the church building because they are the method prefered by each individual church to teach the scriptures to its members and visitors.
We must be careful when we discern just what is a command and what is not as we study the scriptures and be sure we keep every passage in context, as we discussed in Bible Study Part One. I wish you the best of wisdom to rightly divide the scriptures and discern what God would have you do to live a godly life as he commands us (Titus 2:12).
There is more to studying the scriptures than I have mentioned in my two posts, but these can help you get far in understanding what God intends for us and should help to rightly divide His word. Perhaps a study guide on the subject would be helpful also. Learning to study the bible effectively is something that takes time and practice, but can be done by every individual. God expects us to do it and He does not require anything of us that we are not able to do. If we pray about it and give it all of our effort we can do it.
May God bless you and keep you until next time.