Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drawing us near to himself as we search for his bride

What's evangelism about? In Genesis 24 terms the evangelist is the servant of the Father who is comissioned to find a wife for the son. He's devoted to the Father, devoted to the Son and devoted to the Wife. Imagine evangelism training that aimed at fueling these (not to say you'd not want to teach persuasion, or critical thinking etc - the stronger your affections the more you'd want to speak strongly). Chris suggested that these might help us with training for this kind of evangelism, annotated by what I think that'd look like...
John 3:29-30 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase, I must decrease
--- Waiting and Listening for the bridegroom's voice. A great opportunity to consider Scripture as encounter with Christ.
2 Cor 11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband...to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ
--- Growing in divine jealousy. This is really feeling the heart of the Triune God. Dig into Exodus! Or Hosea...
Gal 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all.
--- Remaining with the one who called us. What Sibbes called 'in-being'. What does it mean to dwell in the Triune God?
Gal 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
--- Being known by God. More of the previous one - we know God, and he knows us!
Gal 4:19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
--- Feeling the pangs of childbirth for the church. Sounds something similar to the sickness of love that you see in The Song of Songs. 
1 The 3:5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
--- Growing depth of affections that will burst for others. Imagine this kind of fear and 'stand it no longer' affection. No apathy. No ambivalence. Such is the fruit of the gospel.
This is the kind of 'training' that draws us deeper into the gospel, a gospel which is about this:
"God draws near to us in such a way as to draw us near to himself within the circle of his knowing of himself." TF Torrance (cited by Dave Cruver) 
The apologetics involved in evangelism flowing out of this kind of training would surely be warmer and more attractive, more inviting and engaging, more personal and confronting. Weaker and softer, and yet stronger and more like Christ himself.