Thursday, October 24, 2013

Persecution, anyone?

     Isn't it incredible when you see God's promises come true?  The wonder and renewed certainty of the truth of God in Scripture is one of the many ways He upholds us and nurtures us in the middle of this "la vida loca".  Less than an hour ago, a notable verse came true for me...
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,..."  (1 Tim 3:12)
Our suffering is nothing compared to His...
    No, I wasn't crucified or flogged, nothing that would merit inclusion in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.  But according to our verse, the hatred of the world against God must find expression in some way, so I got a tiny dose of civilized Western persecution today.  Yesterday, I had an extended conversation with a JW at work, the most recent of many.  The last point he made was to ask for one instance in the Bible where Jesus was called Jehovah (or Yahweh).  So I walked him through Isa 6 and its N.T. exposition, Jn 12:41:  in Isa, the glory is explicitly emanating from Jehovah, and John just as explicitly tells us that the Person Isaiah saw was Jesus and he prophesied about Him for us.  My coworker had never seen this connection before, and was a little speechless (he usually gets mad when I stump him).  So today, he asked where I had gone to school (he meant my religious education).  I held up my hand in a big, fat zero, and told him that I had no formal training in theology.  He asked about my mentor, where did he study?  I was able to repeat my gesture, and his response was classic:
"Well, that would explain why you're so confused!"
     I said nothing, and he quickly told me he was just joking, and so I goodnaturedly chuckled and mentioned that's exactly what they said about someone else:  "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus."  (Acts 4:13)  I too am a common, uneducated man.  But I know Jesus, and His words about the work of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant ring true:
"It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me..." (John 6:45)
"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you."  (John 16:13-14)
     We live in an unparalleled age of information, and we must avail ourselves of this incredible access and bounteous documentation.  But no education, formal or informal, can replace the supernatural Presence of God in His people.  The Holy Spirit is our divine Expositor, so learn to listen to Him as you preach the One who sent Him.

Photo courtesy of Bo Insogna

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