Scripture: “The following night the Lord stood by (Paul) and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so must you testify also in Rome.”” Acts 23:11
Observation: Sometimes it can be the smallest references in the text that can mean the most over a long period of time, if only there are eyes to perceive…
Analysis: There isn’t a trick to unpacking scripture. No special technique, no special training…
Except the following: Look and ask questions over and over again. Strike the above in one thing: Asking the Holy Spirit to reveal stuff is imperative.
I am constantly amazed at folks who can unpack scripture, not with weird, agenda stuff, but with solid exegesis making me say, “Where did he get that and how did I miss it? I must have read that section 1,000 times and didn’t see it before today…”
Key phrase in the above scripture reference: “…you have testified to the facts about me…” Key word: Facts.
If I review the scripture references I remember most, many have to do with my safety in Him, however “safety” is stretched and defined. Fewer memories have to do about Jesus, his character, attributes, functions, etc., the stuff that is defined as Christology or the Doctrine of the Christ in Christian theology (Doctrine of Grace).
That’s too bad, because the less I review and remember about specifically Him, the less logical facts I know—and certainly a less coherent Gospel. By reviewing the Gospel from my own experience, however valuable that can be, it becomes less about objective fact and more about subjective experience.
I remember a recent experience where a local cult was canvassing my neighborhood. I used to like these folks coming up to the door because I was ready for a discussion fight, sharpening my sword as it were. In later years I grew weary of the confrontation because it always came down to a “I said, they said” and we parted ways with nothing but elevated adrenalin levels.
About a year before this last confrontation, I took a challenge to recite the Gospel, step by step, starting with Genesis and going as far through the OT as I good go until I got to the Cross and from there through Revelation. I practiced preaching this to myself on my ride into work (about 30 mins daily).
That Saturday, the couple came to my door and asked me “If I knew about the Gospel of God” thinking that perhaps I would say yes but no more. Perhaps they were thinking that they could fill in my blanks. Instead, I said “Yes” and started conversing with them about the Gospel and God’s intentions; talking about how Eden was never Plan A and Adam did not catch God by surprise so that the Cross became the reluctant Plan B for creation, etc.
I think I got into Genesis 6 or so before the witnessing couple said, “That is not we believe.” Replying, I said, “I know. However, what I am declaring to you is the Truth, and I ask/advise you to repent from your ways. They are wicked before God.” They left. However, they now have heard the Gospel and perhaps the Holy Spirit will cause them to remember that crazy man one Saturday long ago…
Armed like Paul was with facts is more productive than beliefs.
Prayer: Lord, somehow the Scripture text relates that “mighty men of God” were solid and secure in the knowledge of You. The reviewed your Works and Wonders. You were more real than the reality of the ground they walked upon. I want to believe AND live like that. Help me, O Lord. Renew my mind and cause me to put my nose to the grindstone to do the same. AMEN.