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Sidewalk Prophets

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May Newsletter: Backwards

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Good News: the report of something that has already happened!
!happened already has that something of report the: News Good

Jane and I were in a conversation recently, actually it was about 1am, on one of those couldn’t get to sleep nights. Those kinds of nights always seem to create subjects that she or I don’t find time for in daytime. Anyway, we were talking about sharing our Gospel belief with our 3 daughters, and I said something that I don’t know that I’ve thought about saying before. If I only had one sentence of advice to give to our daughters, what would that sentence be? There were some obvious responses, I would even go so far as saying, and traditional things I might say. You know most of them so I’ll not list them for you here. But, after going over many responses in my mind, my ‘final answer’ is this: ‘If you want to discover the mystery of the Gospel, want to know Who God is, read the Bible backwards.’ It’s always been interesting to me that the Jewish text has to be read right to left rather than the other way round. That’s kind of similar to what I’m saying about reading the Bible backwards. Start at the end and read to the beginning. Kind of hard to wrap our heads around actually, but how much easier would it be if PBS’s Poirot knew the answer before the investigation to fill in the blanks?

I know our habits are to read from Genesis to Revelation; we were taught that way from our childhood. But after 50 years of this faith journey, to really come to the cornerstone of our faith, that would be my advice to our children. I always start study with Paul’s Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, etc and look how those revelations shed Light on the earlier. Jesus is the Light and has specifically come to show us the Father. Now, you might say, really, the Word backwards is a bit nuts, and I’d let you say that without argument. It may just be my ‘easier way’ of perceiving the Truth. However, let me at least explain what I’ve come to over the years. It all started long ago when a friend of mine asked me to hit the restart button on my Bible studies, asked me to start the Gospel with the book of Colossians, letting it affect the reality of what I would read after that. That moment has paid many dividends in my life. You see, Paul wrote Colossians in past-tense. It is news that has already happened, happened in Christ Jesus. So here we go…

What I’m simply saying is that it’s easier to understand the Gospel when we understand our present situation because of what Christ did, easier to understand when we take a look at what is finished. The whole Gospel message, from Genesis to the Book of Acts, was about something that was in the heart of God the Father and God the Son even before Genesis. The whole story of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Israel and even the life of Jesus was a journey from the heart of God the Father and His Son before the foundation of the world. Truly, Genesis to Acts was all the beginning of something, it was the progress until the cross, burial and resurrection. Something changed with that death, burial and resurrection that was a journey through human history until the ‘it is finished’ actually accomplished something in the heart of God. Now, for the very first time we really have Emmanuel, God with us. It created a new covenant, one prophesied by Jeremiah, one of the heart rather than the head. It ushered in a new way for God and His creature to relate to one another.

The Bible after all is one thing and one thing only, the revelation of Jesus Christ. He was in Genesis and He’s in Revelation. By beginning our study with the Mystery Himself we can better understand the journey from Genesis through the end of the book. Paul, having written so much of our Gospel, did in one simple statement while on the road to Damascus ask the question that is common to all, ‘Who are you Lord?’ In that statement found in Acts 9, Paul seems to have an understanding that Jesus is Lord, but who are you Lord implies a need to know Him in a way. A way that does not simply acknowledge His existence, but a deeper ‘knowing’ and intimate knowing of just exactly the essence of who this Lord is, not just that He is but what does He do. A knowing that brings us closer to not only what He has done for us but also what He has done to us!

Starting with the present and then interpreting the past, in this case, is most necessary to really and completely understand that past. That’s not to say we should throw out history, it’s just that this history is subject to our present. In this history Jesus said He was the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth, the Life, so we probably should start with Him to understand all that preceded Him. He told us no one knows the Father but the Son. That can only be placed in two categories: a crazy statement or a profoundly true statement. If true, it changes history. Simply said, that means no one in the room, no matter who is in the room, no one, knows the Father but one in that room, the Son of God. He came to reveal Him to us in a new and profound way. Therefore, it’s probably good to get our understandings about the Father from Him. Learning Jesus, we can then look back and see the Lord parting the Red Sea, being a Lamb slain, being a Scapegoat, being the blood of the Temple. Jesus was the Good Samaritan. He was the Promise made before the foundation of the cosmos. He was the priest liken unto Melchizedek, all those things and much more. Scripture says thousands of volumes could have been written about this Jesus.

The whole of scripture is not just a chronological history but truly His story. He alone is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is not a footnote to Adam, he is the Lord of Adam. Reading it from Genesis we have a tendency to read the New Testament with a ‘yes, but Adam.’ If we read it from Jesus, when we get to Genesis we get to say, ‘yes, but Jesus.’ He’s the King of kings. I am suggesting, how ‘bout we start with Jesus to understand all things, after all, all things are fulfilled in Him, He holds all things together. No man comes to the Father, can know the Father, except by Jesus Christ. From His life forward we are under His authority, even more than Moses, David, Mathew, Mark Luke, John, and Paul or any other man. While He was the Finish to the old things, the same Jesus was the beginning all things new.

If He is all these things mightn’t we start with Him to discover the Mystery of the Gospel? He is what was hidden for thousands of years, only to be discovered in this day, the day of the Spirit. One of Jane’s favorite scriptures, one that became so real while critically sick a few years ago, is John 14:17-20:

… the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, does not know Him: but you know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. In a little while, and the world will see Me no more; but you will see me: because I live, you shall live also. At that day (in this beginning, this day of the Spirit) you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Bottom line, Truth is only possible through Jesus Christ. He was, and is, in perfect communication with the Father, the Spirit; everything (mediation, salvation, righteousness, forgiveness, and reconciliation) comes through Christ. Jesus Christ is God’s language to humanity. He was full of Faith, actually the only wholely faithful, the true Believer. For our girls, ‘read ‘er backwards’ to prioritize the Son of God.


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