Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
Mark 1.14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The Gospel is presented in Scripture in a number of very informative ways. It is also presented in a number of very different ways. Not that the Gospel changes, but that it is not monolithic in what it addresses, and how it addresses it. For the next few days, we’ll examine some of these variants in an effort to help us both understand our salvation more comprehensively, and, to assist us in communicating it in evangelism.
Our text today picks up on a paradigm for evangelism that is not very popular in our day. It poses the idea of a new “Kingdom”, a new order coming into the world. It conjures up ideas of one city or nation being overthrown by another. And in effect, the call is for those about to be conquered, to make peace with the new regime about to take over. This particular mode of understanding the nature of Christ’s redemptive work is reiterated any number of times in the New Testament. And it is a perfectly Biblical approach to evangelism.
Some (falsely) think that the Gospel only comes in one, pre-packaged form. Maybe you’re familiar with the “Romans Road” or the “Four Spiritual Laws” or Evangelism Explosion’s “If you died tonight, where would you go, to Heaven or to Hell?” These can be (and are) all used to great effect. What they fail to do – if taken as the exclusive approach – is take into account where a particular individual may be emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. They “can” (though they do not have to) tend to be a one-size-fits-all. And while it is a “One-Gospel-saves-all” situation, meeting each individual may require very different approaches. Hence Jesus preaches to the multitudes in protracted teaching sessions, speaks to Nicodemus in one way, with the Woman at the Well quite differently, and to the Rich Young Ruler far more differently still. The point being, God deals with us each in the context of our lives – in a way that gets through to us where WE are.
Of great help in seeing this principle, is Psalm 107. Here, the Psalmist paints four very different portraits of where God finds men in His seeking and saving the lost. We need to take this page from His book. We need to think about how the Spirit may already have been dealing with them.
1. 107.4-5 / “Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty their soul fainted within them.” These cried to the Lord our of their emptiness and dryness. To such as these, we come with news of Living water as Jesus did. They are already spent. Already broken. Already empty. Lost. And they know it. These, the following verses say “He led them by a striaght way till they reached a city to dwell in.” Here, the Gospel is more focused upon mercy to the ravages of sin they’ve suffered.
2. 107.10-16 / “Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.” These are ones who have come to the end of their sins. They see their folly, and they are eating its bitter fruit. They know themselves bound and guilty and unable to find release. Verse 14 says “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and burst their bonds apart.” They need a Gospel that assures them the bondage of sin will be broken, and that forgiveness is at hand.
3. 107.17-22 / “Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near the gates of death.” These would be the ones of which the poet spoke, live lives of “quiet desperation.” Life has lost meaning. There is no purpose. Nothing makes sense. And to these “He sent out His word and healed them.” They need to be taught the meaning and purpose of life and man as made in God’s image and God’s great love in sending Christ. They need reality from God’s Word to frame all of life.
4. 107.23-32 / “Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters.” Some are riding the crest of life in business and power and politics and family. They ride the highs and the lows of life. But living life they are. To the hilt. And giving precious little thought to the God over all who gives them these things. Here, God’s work is two fold. In 25-26, He sends a storm to shake their confidence and repose. And in 29 He stills the waters after they cry to Him. Some are self-satisfied, busy with life and content. They need shaken up. Disturbed. But then also rescued.
What a God who finds us where we are, as we are, and deals with us as who we are.