Monday, October 12, 2015

A Prophetic Thought Progression

Last night after service in the cafe P Butch hit us with a principle from his apologetics class (He was my apologetics instructor in the 90's when I went to Bible College). He reminded us that we can see certain progressions in the scriptures of how the prophets communicated messages from God.

They often put an attitude or event in context, then communicated divine viewpoint and lastly they gave a starting point for the listener to act. It isn't a formula but it is one of the organic progresses of communication we see in the scriptures.

We see Jesus doing this with Mary and Martha when He went to raise Lazarus from the dead.

"...and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' " - John 11:19-23 ESV

Mary communicates her disappointment. This family had a close relationship with Jesus. Jesus had rushed off to heal others. He had spoke a word with a soldier He didn't know and that soldiers servant was healed that laid far away in a bed somewhere else but now she is mourning the death of Her brother. She was wondering why these recent events had transpired.

Jesus doesn't apologize. He takes from what she said (or in this case implied) and gives that truth back to her by confirming to her that her brother will be raised from the dead.

We use this in apologetics when speaking to people. People have strange ideas about God. Some of them come right from the culture or fiction and others are unique patchworks developed over time. We use the Bible's descriptions of God's actions or nature to put what they are saying in context. We find a point of agreement (if possible) and start from that common ground.

"Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.'

Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' " - John 11:24-26 ESV

Then Jesus gives her divine viewpoint and a starting point for application. He reveals to her who He Is in a fresh way. She knew He could heal her brother but that knowledge only added to her grief because it made Jesus seem powerful but uncaring.

Knowledge about God divorced from grace does that. We are left confused by circumstances because our expectations are not met.

Human viewpoint was that Jesus was a kind man destined to be Messiah who had the power to Heal. Divine viewpoint shows us that Jesus is the finger of God that pierces the veil of eternity. He Is eternal, sovereign and powerful. He is loving but not predictable in our framework. His consistency is just that... His. He does not act the way we think He will based on experience but He also does not disappoint.

Then Jesus gave Martha an opening to make an application of the truth just presented by asking her if she believed. He challenged her, gently, to mix faith with truth. After speaking to Mary and weeping Jesus gave the whole group another opportunity to apply truth.

"Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, 'Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone.

And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.'

When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out.' The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.

Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.' " - John 11:39-44 ESV

We can communicate this way also. We can put situations in context then reveal to people the divine viewpoint that has been revealed to us. Lastly... we can challenge them to believe.

If they believe they can see the glory of God for themselves just as we have gotten glimpses of that glory when we believed.


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