Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Beginnings of the Gospel

The Training of the Twelve, is well worth a close reading because as D. Stuart Briscoe writes in his foreword, “the contemporary church needs to remember that the invaluable information gleaned from the social scientist about human behaviour must never be seen as a substitute for a personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus similar to that enjoyed by the twelve as they walked the highways and byways together.

“How they heard His word, studied His reactions, fulfilled His commands and responded to His promises is faithfully recorded for us in Scripture and beautifully applied to our situations in this book”

Dr. Bruce begins by commenting on John 1:29-51:
“All beginnings are more or less obscure in appearance, but none were ever more obscure than those of Christianity. What an insignificant event in the history of the church, not to say of the world, this first meeting of Jesus of Nazareth with five humble men, Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and another unnamed! . . . the beginnings of an acquaintance with and of faith in Jesus on the part of certain individuals who subsequently become constant attendants on His person, and ultimately apostles of His religion.”

All five, with the Apostle John most likely the “unnamed” disciple (see John 1:37), “were men who hungered and thirsted after real righteousness, being sick of the righteousness then in vogue; they said Amen in their hearts to the preacher’s withering exposure of the hollowness of current religious profession and of the worthlessness of fashionable good works, and sighed for a sanctity other than that of pharisaic superstition and ostentation . . . they prayed fervently for the reviving of true religion, for the coming of the divine kingdom, for the advent of the Messianic King with fan in His hand to separate chaff from wheat, and to put right all things which were wrong.”

“The faith of these brethren, was, therefore, just such as we should expect in beginners. In substance it amounted to this, that they recognized in Jesus the Divine Prophet, King, Son of Old Testament prophecy; and its value lay not in its maturity, or accuracy, but in this, that however imperfect, it brought them into contact and close fellowship with Him, in whose company they were to see greater things than when they first believed, one truth after another assuming its place in the firmament of their minds, like the stars appearing in the evening sky as daylights fades away.”

(The Training of the Twelve by A.B. Bruce, published by Kregel Publications, in 1971, Reproduced from the fourth edition by A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1894. Foreword by D. Stuart Briscoe, copyright 1988 by Kregel Publications. Chapter 1 Beginnings, pages 1—10).

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