Q. In last week’s post you refer to the Acts 15 model for redeeming church conflicts as one consistent with all of Scripture. The four elements you outline—Perspective, Discernment, Leadership, and Biblical Response—are spoken of as a “progressive continuity” that somehow consistently reflect the message of all of Scripture. Could you explain that a bit more since it seems to me to be a bit “over-the-top.”
A. Your question is fair and also very timely as we approach the day we Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus—Easter Sunday—the day that changed the course of human history forever. No event in the course of our history can even come close to what occurred on the day of our Lord’s resurrection. Never again can men and women say there is no hope because now we have certain proof of life beyond the grave. And never again need there be a conflict beyond the power of redemption!
Many gifted authors far more qualified than I have written eloquently about the unity and consistency of redemptive history that unfolds across the pages of God’s revealed Word in the Holy Scriptures. That message is the message of Creation, the Fall of mankind, Conflict, Promise, and Redemption. It is the message of the Gospel! In it we see God’s character of love revealed in the four elements we have outlined: Perspective, Discernment, Leadership, and Response. While it would take a lengthy book to unpack all of the nuances and implications of God’s revelation of himself that we find between Genesis 1 and Revelation 22 that would provide all of the detailed supporting evidence of our assertion, simply consider what you know about God:
- Only God as omnipotent and omniscient stands in a place of perfect, eternal perspective;
- Only God, who knows the beginning from the end of all things, can comprehensively discern the meaning, motives, and purpose of everything;
- Only God knows completely the depth of our helplessness and desperate need and is in a place of absolute sovereign rule that he can lead us to a place of safety and peace; and
- Only God can, and did (in Jesus Christ on the cross), provide the response that satisfies the deepest conditions of our being as well as meet the conditions of his character—his being—of perfect justice and holiness.
Over the centuries, theologians, Bible scholars, and commentators have looked to the prophet Isaiah as that portion of Scripture that summarily captures what is reflected in the whole of God’s message of love to his creation. For example, in the “Introductory Outline” to the NASB’s Master Study Bible we find this comment:
Isaiah is deservedly known as the Evangelical Prophet, because he gives the fullest and clearest exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere in the Old Testament. Somewhat like the Epistle to the Romans in the New Testament, Isaiah serves as a compendium of the great doctrines of the pre-Christian age, and treats almost every cardinal theme in the gamut of theology. Special emphasis is given to the doctrine of God, in His omnipotence, His omniscience, and His redemptive love. As over against the imaginary gods of the idol-worshipping heathen, He reveals Himself as the one true God, the sovereign Creator of the universe, Who ordains all the events of history according to His own master plan.
Consider these words of the great prophet as given to him through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the four elements of our outline:
Perspective: Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God; and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient of times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. Isaiah 46:8-10
Discernment: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Isaiah 40:28
Leadership: This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. They will neither hunger or thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. Isaiah 49:8-10
Response: For to us a child is born, to us a son given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Only God’s Words, not any man’s, can call you (and convince you) to see the flow of this four-fold model as one given to us by our Heavenly Father that we may find redemption and peace in our churches:
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow within him.” John 7:37-38
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
May God bless you and your church with peace this Easter as you overflow with His gifts of living water and the light of life.