Contextualization Pt 2 The Bible and the Incarnation

Posted: March 7, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Theology, Thoughts

Tim Keller an author and pastor in New York speaks of persuasion and contextualization as the gospel for dummies. Today you can walk into any store and find books on anything for dummies. What these books try to do is communicate any subject from Philosophy, Theology, Science, Business, in terms that the average person could understand. These books are great and serve as a great introduction to any field or topic. The authors work hard at getting it right, and getting it across. They understand that certain words are hard to understand unless you know the shorthand and verbiage that subject requires. Tim Keller takes this concept and applies it to evangelism. He says that our work as Christians is to do the hard work of listening to a person, entering their worldview, challenging their worldview, and completing the worldview with the gospel in terms that they understand. Our gospel presentations should be gospel for dummies. People with little to no clue about justification, expiation, and propitiation, should be told about Jesus. They should know of His sinless life. His perfect payment for all of our rebellion. They should be invited to live in the power that raised Jesus from the dead so that we could be united to the God that we have been separated from

Now I know that some of you are probably thinking “ok, Angel, I am sort of tracking with you but I am not sure that this passage alone will give me warrant to change the way I approach sharing the gospel. Is there any more evidence for why I should contextualize?” I would say, yes.  God gives us two forms of revelation that would lead me to believe that God contextualized His message to us as well.  The first reason is short and sweet. The BIble…Here is why.

The Bible is God’s written Word to us. When God decided to reveal Himself, He revealed Himself in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. God chose to reveal himself in propositional words. He used language that we could identify with. He didn’t chose a heavenly language or heavenly grammatical structures. He used what we understood as a way of communicating with us.

It is crazy to think that God spoke to us. I mean, just let that sink in. The God who not only made you and sustains you decided to reveal Himself to you, that you may known Him, enjoy Him, and glorify Him! He wrote 39 books through about 41 authors over a span of 1,400 years in order to give you the Old Testament . It is even more unbelievable to think that He would dwell among us!!

But God’s Word is a story of redemption. He doesn’t just reveal His judgement, power, and wisdom in creation. He also reveals a plan of salvation. The written Word points to the Visible Word that we find in John. God was preparing everything for His Word to become flesh. It is in the incarnation that we see the clearest picture of how God feels, acts, reacts, and speaks. God had already revealed a lot about who he was, but in the Incarnation we see something amazingly beautiful.

It is not an easy thing to think about. I mean, just think of how awesome the incarnation is. How mind boggling it is. God who is outside of time, and created time, steps into time, space, history! The immaterial God who is spirit becomes physical. I love how a a rapper puts it. “God put on the uniform of the human form”. As if describing Himself through Scripture wasn’t clear enough God sent His Son to make the Father known.

Jesus our Exegete

Lets look at a passage that would make this concept a bit clearer. In John 1 we are introduced to the Word. This Word was with God and is God. He creates everything and without him there is nothing that has been created. Not even Himself. As Creator He could not have been a created agent to assist in creation. In vs 14 this Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. Isn’t that amazing!!! God, dwells among us. He lives among us, he feels what we feel, he sympathizes with us and identifies himself with us!!! But that isn’t it! In verse 18 we find an amazing verse, and one that has been rocking me for the last couple of months. Verse 18 in the NIV says

18. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

The phrase I want us to focus on is the phrase, “has made him known”. This phrase comes from the word exegesis, which is a term theologians use for a right interpretation of a passage. This passage is telling us that Jesus explains God, He interprets, and clearly demonstrates God for us. He is, in fact, deity for dummies. You want to know how God loves sinners, look at Jesus on mission with tax collectors, prostitutes, and the religious outcast. Do you want to see God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness, look at the cross and the call of God to come to HIm for salvation. If you have ever wanted to know how frightening the wrath of God is, look at the cross. Do you understand the compassion of God? No, then look at Christ as he weeps over Israel, the tomb of Lazarus, and moves toward them. What does God think about the religious people who seek their righteousness in their work. Well, how does Jesus address them in the gospels? God is made known to us not only in Scripture but in the Incarnation.

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