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Communicating and Contextualizing the Gospel

David Asscherick

Presenter

David Asscherick

Speaker of Light Bearers and Co-founder of ARISE.

Sponsor

Conference

Recorded

  • August 2, 2019
    1:00 PM
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Over the quick prayer. Father in heaven we have every reason to believe that you're going to be with us now. Come into this room not just into the walls but into the hearts of the people that are here including mine in Jesus' name but everyone say amen. So my talk today is titled bridges not walls and I want to talk to you about contextualization and communication Jesus was I believe a master communicator and a master can textual eyes and I think that the gospels go out of their way to present Jesus this way I'll just go through a few passages to talk about Jesus then I'll talk about Paul and then we'll sort of hopefully have a little bit of time left over to talk about something I'm really passionate about something I've been developing lately. So Jesus is walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and he sees 2 fisherman Simon and Andrew and he says follow me for I will make you and I know you know this. So that with me with a little bit of enthusiasm I will make you fishers of men we don't have to wonder why it is that Jesus makes this specific invitation to follow me and I will make you fishers of men because the text says that they were fishermen very good Matthew Chapter 4 Jesus gives the invitation here to 2 fisherman to come and be fishers of men what he does is he creates a point of access to their language to their context and to their culture just 4 chapters later a Roman centurion approaches Jesus and he might be familiar with the story he approaches Jesus and much to Jesus astonishment as well as all the surrounding peoples He says I am a servant who's sick and Jesus says Oh no problem I'll go and all heal him and the man says no no no no I'm like you I'm a person of authority I tell people to go and they go I tell them to come and they come only speak the word and my servant will be healed not Jesus before he speaks the word. He makes this remark he's clearly incredulous he says I have not seen faith like this in the whole of Israel Jesus commendation of the Roman centurion is remarkable for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the man was a Gentile he was a Roman He was a soldier and he was a leader of soldiers there were so many cultural theological reasons for Jesus to treat the centurion like all of the rabbis would have but Jesus affirms in the strongest possible language I've not seen faith like this in the whole of Israel and then this point Jesus says go. You can't miss the very point of access the centurion creates with Jesus says I am a man of authority I tell people to go and they go and come and they come if you just speak the word because he recognized him also as a fellow man of authority he says my servant will be healed and Jesus then speaks his language he says go your wife your servant is here. In Matthew Chapter 19 fast 40 from Chapter 8 we find Jesus encounter with what we just know colloquially as the rich young ruler and Jesus is approached by the rich young ruler I'm not going to detail all of the specifics of the interaction here it's a fascinating interaction but my favorite part is when Jesus makes the invitation of this ruler he says follow me and you will have treasure in heaven which of course raises the question why that invitation in that setting to that man in the answer is inescapable the answer is obvious when he spoke to fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee he said follow me and I'll make you pictures of men when he spoke to a man of authority he used the language of authority and here when he speaks to a business minded man a money minded man and entrepreneur he says follow me and I'll give you an investment you couldn't possibly resist. Then John chapter 4 skipping to the last of the god. Who's Jesus finds himself sitting in Jacob's well with a woman who is there in the heat of the noon day looking for water Jesus ties what he has to offer to what she's after he says if you knew who I was you would ask me for a drink and I would give you water that would so slake your thirst you would never need to return to this well again Jesus here ties the woman's context her language and her felt need to the invitation we don't have to wonder if these are happenstance or perhaps even serendipitous maybe Jesus just happened to serendipitously say to fishermen I'll make you fishers of men and men of authority to use the language of authority and to an investor to use the language of of economics Oh no the greatest text in all of the Gospels arguably all of Scripture communicates both communication and can textual is ation is John chapter one verse one in the beginning was the Word and the word is with God in the Word was God If you jump down 13 versus later the verse 14 it says the word you probably know this became what push that is the whole to me that is the apex that is the summit or the pinnacle of communication how will I ever speak to these people in a language in a context in a culture that they will be able to access I got it I'll become one of them. Jesus was a master communicator and a master contextualizing the apostle Paul and surprisingly we find as Luke tells the story in The Book of Acts walks in the footsteps of Jesus and actually after 13 I'll just go through 4 of these very quickly and then I'm sure sort of go to our practical takeaways and actually after 13 the Apostle Paul for this is the 1st of Paul's 4 missionary journeys with the last being involuntary Paul finds himself in a synagogue in Antioch in Syria and the Bible says that when Paul goes into this synagogue it's the it's only one it's the only sermon. It is recorded of Paul in a synagogue and you're supposed to surmise that all of Paul's synagogue sermons were similar to this one the key thing happens this is an action after 13 verse 16 or Paulo opens his speech in the synagogue with these 3 words men of does anybody know the next word his real man of Israel and then remarkably Paro again walking right in the very footsteps of Jesus the master contextualizing communicator he proceeds to tell an exceedingly sorry early Jewish story he talks about Abraham he talks about Moses he talks about Saul the son of Kish he tells a very Jewish story because he's in a very Jewish place on a Jewish sham worship speaking from Jewish scriptures to Jewish people the punch line of the story is the resurrection of Jesus Christ can somebody say Man Now what's remarkable that's actually after 13 in the very next chapter in the very next chapter actually after 14 Paul finds himself also in a city in ancient Syria what's called called Lystra Paul is not now in a synagogue However when he goes into the open air market analyzed and an amazing healing takes place and the residents of wise for a mistake he and his traveling companion Barnabas for 2 of their gods Paul does something remarkable in order to try to prevent them or to dissuade them from worshipping them as gods he says this he says no no no no I'm here to tell you about the God who made all things I want to tell you about the God who sends the rain and I want to tell you about the God who puts who puts the seasons of the harvest in their order and who fills your bellies with fruit. Why didn't he talk about Abraham or Moses or Saul the son of cash isn't the answer obvious this is not a Jewish audience he's not in a Jewish synagogue they're not familiar with the Jewish scriptures so what kind of a story does he tell you. He tells a lie Conan story the punchline of which is the resurrection of Jesus and some of the same men action after 17 this is the classic scripture in all of Pauline conjectural ization Paul has found himself in the very place the heart of the ancient Greco-Roman world the intellectual capital of the world and when Paul addresses the Athenian philosophers It's as if these 2 are lying all over himself to find every conceivable bridge with these Greek speaking peoples He says I was wondering around your city considering the objects of your devotion and I saw a statue with this moniker to the Unknown God and he says I want to tell you the one I didn't say Paul said the one you worship ignorantly I want to tell you about one of your own gods and then he says that some of your own poets have said we are his off spring I perceive that in all things you are very religious again and again Paul in fact you can identify not less than 8 and as many as 10 purposeful radical methodological bridges Paul is building to try and tell what could be fairly described as the Greek story as it were a kind of story did I say as a Greek story guess what the punchline of the story is I'll give you one guess the resurrection of Jesus but don't miss it don't miss it don't miss when Paul and it actually 13 is in a Jewish synagogue preaching from Jewish scriptures talking to Jewish people on the Jewish day of worship he tells us what kind of a story he tells a Jewish story when he is among the why Coney and people of why strong What kind of a story does he tell the God who sends the rain the God who fills your bellies with food the God who sends the harvest when he said he can do Athenians he's trying to tell a Greek story hey this is the god you worship ignorantly I want to talk to you about that guy now we don't need to wonder if Pastor Ashura has been here a little loose. And maybe a little creative in his understanding of Paul's methodological accommodation because Paul tells us expressed solely that this is exactly how he tried to reach people in various situations cultures in context 1st Corinthians Chapter 9 a reading in verse 19 for though I am free from all men let me just say word on that Paul had many horizontal loyalties and identities he was a Roman citizen Greek educated who was a Jew by birth but he says this I am willing to temporarily or provisionally suspend any of my horizontal identities for some greater good what is the greater good Paul for which he would suspend temporarily or provisionally or horizontal identities he tells us for though I am free from all men I have made myself a servant of all that I might win the more. I do the Jews I became a Jew that I might win the Jews to those that are under Torah as under Torah that I might win those who are under the Torah and those that are without Torah as without Torah and then he makes this very important parent that it will clarification not being without Torah toward God but under Torah toward Christ that I might when those who are without Torah to that week I became as weak that I might win the week I have become all things to all men so that I might by all means save some and then he tells us in verse 23 what is the overriding impetus and motivation he says I do this for the sake of the gospel. Why would you show accommodate yourself culturally Why would you so accommodate yourself linguistically Why would you show deny even some of your horizontal and provisional identities in order to gain access to people we don't have to wonder if I would say well because I want to tell everybody about the message of the crucified and risen Christ now action after to make sure the bunnet Lee clear. To actually enter to the Holy Spirit is Paul. And out on the people that were assembled there together largely Jews but certainly some proselytize and this is key and we've read that so many of us are familiar with this but we've not taken away the most basic lessons God gave them on that special day the gift of why you probably know this the gift of tongues the gift of what everyone just listen to what you're saying. Just in the giving of the gift God gave the church the gift the onus the responsibility of communication he did not give the listeners the gift of years and this tells you that God understands that the alone is the responsibility of communicating clearly in a language that they can understand it's not on them to know what we're talking about it's on us to speak a language that makes sense to them Jesus said to fishermen I'll make you fishers of men he spoke to rich on ruler and so I'll give you an investment you cannot resist he spoke of 32 a man of authority spoke about water to a woman who was at a well Jesus and Paul were master communicators and conjectural Wiser's now on. One of the reasons that we've become so insular in our language in our jargon as Gary called it is because we have I believe adopted a false narrative of what gospel success looks like what you imagine in your mind's eye a very simple concept here it's a continuum that goes from $1.00 to $101.00 to $10.00 at one end of the spectrum one is not just religious disinterest but complete religious hostility these will be your militant atheist people that are dead set against any and all forms of religion to be perhaps not hostility but definitely not religious 3 might be an agnostic that leans atheist for might be a true agnostic who is open to any and all possibilities 5 might be somebody who is agnostic but leans toward monotheism 6 might be somebody who is certainly monotheistic maybe of the Islamic rioting or perhaps even a. Friday of the Jewish writing 7 sympathetic to the Christian view of God 8 highly sympathetic to the Christian view of God 9 on the verge of becoming 10 a committed follower of Jesus who takes Scripture seriously just get that continuum in your mind from religiously hostile one to committed follower of Jesus 10 we all together so far. When it comes time to measure the Gospel success organizations like A aside and churches like the 7th Day Adventist Church or any church have certain limited metrics in order to assess are we preaching the gospel are we building the Kingdom up those metrics would be things like the number of baptisms the size of church attendance at church attendance at church school and ties these are not meaningless metrics of success but they are only just a small fraction of the larger picture of success that only God can measure in moving people along the continuum are you with me so you have a neighbor you're a committed follower of Jesus who takes Scripture seriously your attend your neighbors before over the course of one to 2 to 3 to 4 years of interaction with your neighbor when you part ways and they move away or you move away you can say definitively or if your neighbor asked you to pray with them and you prayed with them they may ask you to pray for their dad when he was involved in a serious car accident they might have even said something like this in the course of a relationship I am not a believer like you but if I ever was going to be I would be a Christian they're no longer a former There are 5 they might even be a 6 they're heading in the right direction when it comes time to communicate to people about the goodness of God don't think outcome think influence OK think outcome not influence say that with me if you would think it actually is me influence not outcome let's say that's a gather influence not outcome. More time and influence not outcome Albert Einstein famously observed not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that can be kept and not everything that counts can be counted nobody sitting in a room in a boardroom in a conference office can measure for to a 6 or a 6 to a 7 or a 7 to an 8 for even a one to a 2 but these opportunities for the Holy Spirit to come into people's lives into their culture into their context into their situation and move them along the continuum to get them closer to Jesus the Holy Spirit measures every single one of them how did Paul say it Paul said some water and some plant and some prepare but God brings the increase friends if we would have something resembling Apple style of gospel success if we would have something resembling the Gospel success that Jesus had in Matthew Mark Luke and John we must think in terms of incremental movements toward the kingdom we often think if we don't get people to 10 we have failed our church I know you didn't Frank don't. You just might not be the right time the right situation be working for influence and Jesus will take responsibility for the outcome years ago I was reading in this incredible book called Desire of ages and it went like this God gave the disciples the great commission and then this phrase and he took upon Himself the responsibility for its success if we orient ourselves to the maximizing gosh school influence God will take care of the Gospel outcomes in both measurable meaningful metrics but also all of those interim mental metrics along the way I want to srong only urge you strongly urge you that in so far it is as it is appropriate situationally in conversationally to minimize the necessity for those to whom you're speaking to have the gift of years and maximize your. Willingness to take ownership and receive the gift of tongues given up the linguistic gift of tongues but I'm going to speak in a language that makes sense to these people I love doing what I think it was your sister that said about the 7 just as a case and why we often talk about the obligation of the 7 away with this talk about the opportunity of the 7 we often talk about the continuity of the Sabbath fine but let's start talking about the contents of the 7th friends when we just make a simple shift away from the 10 as the only measurable metric of gospel success and we say wait a minute there are meaningful metrics of gospel success all the way along the continuum which only the Holy Spirit can measure and bring to fruition it will give us permission to adept ourselves situationally contextually and conversationally into social situations where we can maximize influence and then trust in God with the outcome I invite you to study Jesus and the Gospels and have a look and see how they were literally falling all over themselves to maximize points on the acceptance of the point at which the punchline of which was always the resurrection of Jesus Christ published this video was produced by audio for 40 years on this labor services and industry. If you would like to learn more about. That site. Or if you like this. Line. This is.

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