Point: If we would recognize God’s Word for what it is we would value it like Jesus did.
Path: DeYoung lays out an accessible introduction and valuable meditation on the accessibility, necessity, and sufficiency of Scripture. He begins with the end by taking a look at Psalm 119 and how we ought to view Scripture. He then compares Scripture with subjective approaches to knowing God. Chapters 3-6 deal with the sufficiency, clarity, finality, and necessity of God’s Word. Chapter 7 addresses Christ’s view of Scriptures, and then chapter 8 is a challenge to value God’s Word for what it is. He ends with an annotated bibliography on bibliology.
Favorite Quote: “We need the revelation of God to know God, and the only sure, saving, final, perfect revelation of God is found in Scripture.” (Kindle 1103)
“If we learn to read the Bible down (into our hearts), across (the plot line of Scripture), out (to the end of the story), and up (to the glory of God in the face of Christ), we will find that every bit of the Bible is profitable for us” (kindle loc 637).
The average classical author has zero manuscripts extant today produced within half a millennium of the composition of his writings. The New Testament has at least two hundred fifty manuscripts—in Greek alone—produced within five hundred years after the composition of the New Testament.
On Wednesay night, during the adult Bible study at First Baptist we looked at the topic of “The Gospel and Children.” I thought I would post some of my notes in order to help anyone who was looking for clarification, or would like to ask other questions.
The Gospel and Children
If you cannot explain the gospel you probably don’t believe it.
That statement is both a rebuke to those of us who don’t think about it often, and an encouragement because the gospel can be be understood by a child.
What are some popular ways to share the gospel?
Four Spiritual Laws (Campus Crusade)
Bridge to Life (Navigators)
Steps to peace with God (Billy Graham)
Two Ways to Live
These plans are helpful, but my goal is not to teach you a new plan, a secret tool, or a special key to success in evangelism.
There is no one-size-fits-all presentation, but there is only one gospel.
“We must be careful that we do not modify the gospel to suit various age groups. There is no such thing as a special gospel for the young, a special gospel for the middle-aged, and a special gospel for the aged. There is only one gospel, and we must always be careful not to tamper and tinker with the gospel as a result of recognizing these age distinctions. At the same time, there is a difference in applying this one and only gospel to the different age groups; but it is a difference which has reference only to method and procedure.” (from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, knowing the times [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989], 2) HT John Macarthur.
The order and presentation are not set here. There are some parts that need to be understood before others, but not everyone starts on the same page. Each individual has a different background and understanding. So my goal is not to teach you a presentation, but to remind you of the ingredients, so as you talk with someone they all are put into the bowl.
So, what is the Gospel?
God – Holy
Man – Sinful
Christ – Sufficient
Response – Repentance and Faith are necessary
[Shared because of the Urgency of Eternity]
These components can be explained through:
The Big Story of Scripture: Creation – Rebellion – Redemption – Restoration
A Passage: Eph 2:1-10
Or even a single verse: John 3:16
How does this match with what we normally say and do?
How does some of the phraseology we regularly use fall short? “Ask Jesus into your heart.” “Accepted Jesus.” Etc.
How do some of our methods fall short? “Pray this prayer.”
Why do they fall short? What is the fundamental difference between the essential components of the gospel and how we often speak and act? I would say the difference lies in the fact that we often consider faith as a prayer we pray instead of a posture we assume.
What problems does this present later? “Did I say it right?” “Did I really mean it?” “Do I remember it?” How are we supposed to test ourselves (2 Cor 13:5)?
Considerations for adults
If we are focused on a prayer as faith, then we will probably ask a suspected unbeliever something to the effect of “has there ever been a time when you prayed and asked Jesus to come into your heart/forgive you of your sin/save you?” If they say no, we encourage them to say a prayer. If they say “I can’t remember,” we respond, “Would you like to make sure now?”
However, if we see salvation as a gift from God through faith, we will want to ask about an individual’s posture before Christ. Instead of asking if they have ever said a prayer, we will want to ask questions revolving around the essential components of the gospel:
“How would you describe your relationship with God?”
“How do you think sin has affected humanity as a whole? How about you personally?”
“Who do you understand Jesus to be? How did you come to that conclusion?”
“Why do you think the cross was necessary?”
“What do you think Jesus expects of people today?”
“Are you confident in where you will go after you die? Why or why not?”
3. Encourage people to “test yourselves, to see if you are in the faith” (2 Cor 13:5). You don’t do this by trying to remember a prayer, but by seeing if there if fruit of repentance and faith.
As one of our college professors explained, a farmer doesn’t check his fields by digging up the seeds everyday in order to see if there is life in the seeds. He waits and watches for growth. Don’t dig up your prayer – look for life.
Consideration for Children
Recognize that we are trying to point them to Jesus, not get them to say a prayer.
Be sensitive. Your bedtime stories should end with “Jesus is the answer!” not the words “fiery hell.”
If they do make a profession:
Do not assure them in their prayer (“Now that you have prayed and asked Jesus in your heart you will go to heaven no matter what!”).
Instead assure them that Jesus is faithful (“When we trust in Jesus, he will always keep us!”).
From David Platt
Maximize Interaction: Ask questions; Encourage conversation; Ask open ended questions
Here is a particularly convicting quote from a book which convicts at every turn.
“The bottom line is this: proud people tend to talk about themselves a lot. Proud people tend to like their opinions more than the opinions of others. Proud people think their stories are more interesting and engaging than others. Proud people think they know and understand more than others’. Proud people think they’ve earned the right to be heard. Proud people think they have glory to offer. Proud people, because they are basically proud of what they know and of what they’ve done, talk a lot about both. Proud people don’t reference weakness. Proud people don’t talk about failure. Proud people don’t confess sin” (Tripp, 175).
Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Crossway Books, 2012.
There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying they do not want ‘to spend eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 137)
After I felt a lot more comfortable with the general drift of the book of Ephesians, I went through paragraph by paragraph for the most part and answered the COMA questions for each one. (COMA stands for Context, Observation, Meaning, and Application.) You can download these questions here.
I used some commentaries and such, but I tried to study through it on my own first.
The COMA questions really helped me see how Ephesians would affect my everyday life because at the end of the questions there are several specific application questions that I had to think through and answer.
How can I use this passage to point others to Jesus?
How does this passage challenge (or confirm) my understanding?
What attitude/action needs to be changed in my life?
Under what specific circumstances would I turn to the truth of this passage?
So, to sum up the last few posts, here is what my plan looked like, more or less:
1. Read through the entire book in one sitting. Do this three times.
2. Read Acts 19, Paul’s time spent in Ephesus.
3. Answer COMA questions for the entire book on the fourth time through.
4. Listen to the book of Ephesians (audio NIV by Max MacClean)
5. Listen to the book of Ephesians (audio NASB)
6. Read through Ephesians again and circle all the references to Christ in red.
7. Make a list of what Christ does, who He is, what He hates, what He loves, etc.
8. Read through Ephesians again and circle all references to the Holy Spirit in green.
9. Make a list of what the Holy Spirit does, who He is, etc.
10. Read through Ephesians again and circle all references to God the Father in blue.
11. Make a list of what God the Father does, who He is, etc.
12. Answer the COMA questions for each passage as you study through the whole book.
This was a stretching and growing experience for me, but a very good one. I am so thankful to God for His Word and it was so exciting to be able to study deeper than I usually do! I hope that there is something here that will enhance your own study! What would you add?