In The Beginning . . .
In his book, “12 Choices: Life-Changing Decisions You Must Make,” Wilson Adams makes an observation about how the book of Genesis begins:
"Isn’t it interesting how the Bible begins? One might expect Scripture to lead off with a detailed explanation about God, His nature, and a definitive apologetic as to why you should believe in Him. It doesn’t. The Bible begins with an assumption: assuming that rational people will grasp the obvious: a Supreme Being superior to man did all this!"
Brother Adams’ point becomes all the more relevant, when we compare the opening words of Genesis with the opening words of the gospel of the apostle John. They both start with “in the beginning,” but that is where the similarity ends. Genesis assumes that God exists, and that the reader has some understanding of who God is. John does no such thing when introducing Jesus as the Christ. John spends the first eighteen verses talking about the nature of Christ, who He is, where He came from, and what He did for us.
The reason for the difference between these two introductions is that they are intended for two different purposes. The “creation of the world” narrative is written to explain to us how God created the heavens and the earth, in order to kick off the story of humanity. No explanation of who God is was considered necessary by the Genesis writer.
Conversely, the “creation of the Messiah” narrative is written with no such luxury – the apostle John is writing to convince the reader of who Jesus is, “His nature, and a definitive apologetic as to why you should believe in Him.” The assumption in both cases is that the reader is aware of God but needs to be made aware of Jesus.
“So, what’s your point?” I hear you say. The point is that when discussing things of a spiritual nature, you have to start from common ground. The Genesis writer starts with the assumption that God exists and proceeds from there. The apostle starts with the assumption that God exists, the Old Testament exists, and the reader is familiar with it, but he does not assume that the reader understands that Jesus is the Messiah, nor does the reader fully understand what that means.
When discussing, yea, even arguing, spiritual matters, there is no point in trying to argue the finer points of faith vs. works, if the person with whom you are arguing is an atheist. If that is the case, you can’t even start with the Bible, as he or she would reject the Bible as just a work of man.
Foundation Is The Key
“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.” (Mat 7:26-27)
Every builder will tell you that the foundation of a house is its most important piece. Yet, when looking to buy a house, the foundation is usually the last thing we think about. Why is that? Because it’s not very interesting. We’re more concerned with floorplans and square footage and kitchen size and number of bathrooms and ambiance and décor and on and on and on. But the foundation? Not so much, even though all that other stuff rests upon the boring ol’ foundation.
The same principles apply to spiritual matters. It doesn’t matter how elaborate the logic or how learned the individual, if the foundation is sand, the house will fall – and great will be its fall.
Find that common ground. Establish a solid foundation. Then, build upon that foundation, piece by piece, until your friend must accept the fact that Jesus is Lord!
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.
- Edward Motex
- Phil Parker
“ No, I Gave It ”
A soldier lay on a cot in a hospital, recovering from wounds received in battle. The chaplain, seeking to comfort him, said, “I see you have lost your arm in a great cause.”
“No,” replied the soldier with a smile, “I didn’t lose it – I gave it!”
In the same way Jesus did not lose his life on the cross. He gave it up freely and willingly because of His love for us and His desire to make it possible for us to be forgiven and obtain eternal life. Listen to what He said,
I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. – John 10:17-18