Friday, June 02, 2017

Jesus' Method: Proclamation & Demonstration (Needed Today More Than Ever)

Peony, in our backyard

I was trained in an evangelical Christian environment. For all I received from my teachers and pastors, I will forever be grateful.

My evangelical seminary training gave me tools to study God's Word and proclaim it. But it did not help me with two things I now view as central to my Jesus-walk; viz., how to have a deep prayer life, and how to demonstrate the Gospel of the Kingdom the way Jesus did.

I learned how to
proclaim God’s Word, but was not trained or mentored in demonstrating God’s Word in love and power. To not both proclaim and demonstrate is, I believe, to be left with a half-Gospel. (This is my problem with a book like Shane Claiborne's Jesus for President. There is so much that is "gospel" in his book. But it's missing a heart chamber; viz., the supernatural and miraculous.)

I do not mean to criticize my teachers. I am greatly indebted to them. It was one of my seminary New Testament professors who introduced me to the kingdom theology of George Eldon Ladd. Thank you! I didn't realize how important this would be to me until many years later.

I’m convinced that there’s not one of us who has the Gospel exactly right in all areas, to include
moi. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the way Jesus brought in the Kingdom was twofold:

1) He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God, and then

2) he demonstrated it by doing things like healing and delivering people from demonic oppression.

Here’s how Ladd explains this in his excellent book
The Gospel of the Kingdom:

“Our Lord’s ministry and announcement of the Good News of the Kingdom were characterized by healing, and most notably by the casting out of demons. He proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and He demonstrated the Good News of the Kingdom of God by delivering men from the bondage of Satan.” (47)

Of course.

Then, Jesus told his followers to do the same.

Christians who devalue the importance of healing and deliverance ministry devalue the real Gospel. They have half a Gospel. If you are a theological kind of person, one reason for this devaluing is because of the influence of that nonbiblical theory known as "dispensationalism." (For a decisive refutation of dispensationalism see
here, and follow the links.)

We need the full Gospel now, as much as we have ever needed it.
If there is little or no evidence of a God who is not himself a philosophical naturalist, then it's no wonder many teens and young adults opt out of this.

We need "proclamation" of the Gospel. When someone responds to such proclamation in favor of Jesus, this
is a work of God. I believe this. I also know it is easily explained away by philosophical naturalists. So, needed more than ever - demonstrations of the power of God, such as we believe happened in the ministry of Jesus. Acts 2:22 tells us that the signs and wonders and miracles "accredited" Jesus. They validated what he was proclaiming.

Then, Jesus said his followers would do the things he had been doing. That's us, correct? Demonstrations of God's power could be used by God to persuade some of His existence, right?
Followers of Jesus will follow his method. 1) Proclaim the good news. 2) Demonstrate the Word in love and power.

(For examples of the now-activity of God see especially Craig Keener's
Miracles, and U of Indiana professor Candy Gunther Brown's Testing Prayer: Science and Healing.)