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Does God have his testimony in my postmodern neighbors life


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Title: Does God have his testimony in my postmodern neighbors life

Does God have his testimony in my postmodern
neighbors life?
  • Jerram Barrs
  • Lectures III IV

Gods ceaseless work
  • Close to one billion Christian believers
  • Each has a unique story
  • What is our part in this work?
  • Following Christ into the world
  • John 1715, 18 2021

Gods Varied Testimonies
  • Gods infinite variety of means
  • How are we to speak to people?
  • Philippians 48 ff whatever is true, whatever is
    honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
    whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if
    there is any excellence, if there is anything
    worthy of praise, think about these things.

Gods varied testimonies
  • Gods revelation of himself in creation
  • Gods revelation in his providential care
  • The unique glory of our humanity as Gods image
  • Gods moral wisdom revealed to all
  • Objective standards of good and evil
  • Delight in beauty of righteousness
  • Sense of shame and guilt over wrongdoing
  • Awareness of accountability
  • Gods rule over the histories of nations and

God Reveals himself through his Creation
  • The majesty of the stars in the night sky
  • The glory of a sunset
  • The power of a storm
  • The brightness of a snow-covered world
  • The freshness of a spring day
  • The wonder of the infinite variety of creatures

Pied Beauty - Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • GLORY be to God for dappled things
  • For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow
  • For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout
    that swim
  • Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls finches wings
  • Landscape plotted and piecedfold, fallow, and
  • And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
  • All things counter, original, spare, strange
  • Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
  • With swift, slow sweet, sour adazzle, dim
  • He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change
  • Praise him.

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Gods varied testimonies
  • Gods revelation in his providential care
  • You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
  • that he may bring forth food from the earth and
    wine to gladden the heart of man,
  • oil to make his face shine and bread to
    strengthen mans heart. (Psalm 10414-15)
  • The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over
    all that he has made
  • The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises
    up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 1459, 14)

Gods Providential Care
  • Look at the birds of the air they do not sow or
    reap or store away in barns, and yet your
    heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more
    value than they? . See how the lilies of the
    field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I
    tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory
    was dressed like one of these (Matthew 626-29)
  • The Most High is kind to the ungrateful and
    the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is
    merciful. (Luke 627-36)

Paul Appeals to this Testimony
  • We also are men, of like nature with you, and we
    bring you good news, that you should turn from
    these vain things to a living God, who made the
    heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is
    in them. In past generations he allowed all the
    nations to walk in their own way. Yet he did not
    leave himself without witness, for he did good by
    giving you rains from heaven and fruitful
    seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and

The unique glory of our humanity as Gods image
  • We learn more from human persons for only we are
    made in Gods image
  • Infinite Personal God
  • Finite Personal Humans
  • Animals - Animals
  • Plants - Plants
  • Physical world - Physical world

We Are Crowned with Glory and Honor
  • When I look at your heavens, the work of your
  • the moon and the stars, which you have set in
  • what is man that you are mindful of him,
  • and the son of man that you care for him?
  • You have made him a little lower than the
    heavenly beings,
  • and crowned him with glory and honor.
  • You have given him dominion over the works of
    your hands
  • you have put all things under his feet (Psalm

What Is an Image?
  • We are made as finite and visible/physical copies
    of the infinite and invisible God
  • The image, or statue, of a king was set up in a
    city square to be a constant visible reminder of
    the king himself and of his governing power to
    all the dwellers in that city - just so with us
  • We are not lifeless statues but living,
    breathing, physical, personal representations of
    the ruler of the universe

What Can We Learn of God from Humans?
  • Human persons are created for dominion over the
    other creatures
  • God is the Sovereign over all creation, and we
    have a finite and limited sovereignty under him
  • We are designed to exercise loving and faithful
    rule over this earth and all of its creatures

What Can We Learn of God from Humans?
  • Human persons are created for love and
  • Within the Godhead there are the three persons of
    the Trinity loving, relating and fellowshipping
    with each other through all eternity
  • So we as those created in his image are made for
    love, for relationship, for fellowship with our
    Creator and with one another
  • Fundamental to our humanity is that we are made
    to dwell in families, in community
  • I bow my knee to the Father from whom every
    family in heaven and on earth is named
    (Ephesians 314-15)

What Can We Learn of God from Humans?
  • Human persons are created to be like God in
    righteousness and holiness
  • We are to mirror the moral nature of our Creator,
    to walk in the way he walks
  • Behind every commandment of God stands the
    reality of Gods moral beauty
  • Be holy, because I, the LORD your God, am holy
    (Leviticus 192)

What Can We Learn of God from Humans?
  • Human persons are created to be significant
  • We are designed to willingly and gladly choose to
    be what God has made us to be, to live in love
    and in moral beauty as he designed us to live,
    delightedly reflecting his nature in all we do
  • We have a limited sovereignty over our own lives,
    mirroring in a little way the infinite
    sovereignty of Gods divine majesty
  • We are finite history makers, under God the Lord
    of history

What Can We Learn of God from Humans?
  • Human persons are created to think God's thoughts
    after him
  • We are made to be rational, to use our minds to
    the glory of our Creator
  • We are to seek to understand our world and our
    life here in it
  • We are to turn our thoughts to reflect on and to
    treasure all that is right and true

What Can We Learn of God from Humans?
  • Human persons are created to use language
  • We are all like the Word himself we are little
  • God called all worlds into being by his creative
  • He sustains and rules over all things by his
    powerful and law-giving word
  • He reveals himself by his truth-giving word
  • He communicates by his life-giving word
  • We are to use language in imitation of him by
    exercising the gifts of creative imagination
  • By understanding and naming the world around us
  • By revealing ourselves truthfully in all we say
    and write
  • By communicating with our Creator and with one
    another to build trust and to give life to all of
    our relationships

Appealing to this Testimony
  • The knowledge of ourselves (and of one another)
    not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it
    were, leads us by the hand to find him
  • (John Calvin Institutes I, i, 1-2)

Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • Christ plays in ten thousand places,
  • Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
  • To the Father through the features of men's
  • This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ' patch,
    matchwood, immortal diamond

Gods moral wisdom revealed to all
  • Does not wisdom call?
  • Does not understanding raise her voice?
  • On the heights beside the way,
  • at the crossroad she takes her stand
  • beside the gates in front of the town,
  • at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud
  • To you, O men, I call,
  • and my cry is to the children of man
  • By me kings reign,
  • and rulers decree what is just
  • by me princes rule,
  • all nobles who govern justly (Proverbs 81-4

The Testimony of Moral Wisdom
  • Objective standards of good and evil
  • Delight in beauty of righteousness
  • Sense of shame and guilt over wrongdoing
  • Recognition of moral responsibility for children
  • Awareness of accountability ultimately
  • Examples sexual chastity response to wedding
    sermon war criminals (Khmer Rouge)

Gods rule over the histories of nations and
  • The God who made the world and everything in it,
    being Lord of heaven and earth does not live in
    temples made by man, nor is he served by human
    hands, as though he needed anything, since he
    himself gives to all mankind life and breath and
    everything. And he made from one man every
    nation of mankind to live on all the face of the
    earth, having determined allotted periods and the
    boundaries of their dwelling place, that they
    should seek God, in the hope that they might feel
    their way toward him and find him. Yet he is
    actually not far from each one of us. For in
    him we live and move and have our being as even
    some of your own poets have said, For we are
    indeed his offspring. (Acts 1724-28)

Gods Rule over History Unseen, yet Constant
  • In the fullness of time God sent forth his Son
  • Lives of individuals Ruth, Naaman, Esther
  • Fall of communism and impact in Eastern Europe
    and former Soviet Union
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Rise to power of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and
    Fundamentalist Islam
  • Islamic Radicalism and terrorist acts
  • More conversions from Islam today than at any
    point in history

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Jeff Wideners Photograph
  • The Unknown Rebel This famous photo, taken on 5
    June 1989 by photographer Jeff Widener, depicts
    an unknown man halting the PLA's advancing tanks
    near Tiananmen Square

  • Echoes of Eden recalling creation, fall and
  • The transformed life of each believer
  • The new community of Gods people
  • The redolence of Christ in all we do
  • Gods Word has the ring of truth

Westminster Confession
  • We may be moved and induced by the testimony of
    the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the
    Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the
    matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty
    of the style, the consent of all the parts, the
    scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory
    to God), the full discovery it makes of the only
    way of man's salvation, the many other
    incomparable excellencies, and the entire
    perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does
    abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God
    yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and
    assurance of the infallible truth and divine
    authority thereof, is from the inward work of the
    Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word
    in our hearts. (Westminster Confession Chapter
    1, Section V)

Honoring the Spirits work as he uses these
varied testimonies
  • Example two men from Afghanistan village
  • Their desire to know God
  • Their sense of problems with Islam
  • Their secret prayers
  • Gods hand in their history - Australian from
  • Can you help us find God?
  • Conversation Go to LAbri in Switzerland
  • Secret preparation then travel
  • Please Teach us about God
  • Conversion

Our Calling cooperating with God
  • Live the truth make the gospel attractive by
    our lives in family, in friendships, at work
  • Commit ourselves to deep friendships 90 of
    unbelievers come to faith primarily through
    personal relationships with friends, family
    members, neighbors or workmates
  • Praying for family, friends, and neighbors for
    the Spirits work in them

Imitating the Love of our Heavenly Father
  • Respect for every person they bear Gods image
  • Never despise people in their sin see my own
    sin instead!
  • Showing grace and mercy because of sin (Jesus and

Whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you
have no reason to refuse him help. Say, He is a
stranger but the Lord has given him a mark that
ought to be familiar to you, by virtue of the
fact that he forbids you to despise your own
flesh Isaiah 587. Say, He is contemptible
and worthless but the Lord shows him to be one
to whom he has deigned to give the beauty of his
image. Say that he does not deserve even the
least effort for his sake but the image of God,
which recommends him to you, is worthy of giving
yourself and your possessions. Now if he has not
only deserved no good at your hand, but has also
provoked you by unjust acts and curses, not even
this is just reason why you should not embrace
him in love and to perform the duties of love on
his behalf we remember not to consider mens
evil intention but to look upon the image of God
in them, which cancels and effaces their
transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity
allures us to love and embrace them. (John
Calvin Institutes III, vii, 6)
Observing the Spirits Testimony
  • Praying for wisdom and discernment to see
    Whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
    whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is
    lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any
    excellence, if there is anything worthy of
    praise, think about these things. Philippians
    48 ff
  • Honoring this testimony and building on it
  • Pray for grace and clarity to begin to speak the
    truth in love when God opens the door

My Story
  • Parents great marriage and happy family life
  • Passionate commitment to justice and integrity
    Dad a communist
  • Delight in world of nature
  • Reading aloud Lewis and Tolkien
  • Reading Bible stories prayer
  • At 10 we dont believe your choice

Year between High School and College - Developing
  • What does it mean to be human Is there any
    foundation for the glories of our lives?
  • Is there any basis for distinguishing between
    good and evil?
  • Is there any explanation for suffering and any
    resolution to the problem of suffering?

Off to University
  • No answers whats your problem are you a
  • Studying literature that wrestles with these
  • Movies Blow Up, The Silence, Winter Light, Whos
    Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?
  • Life seemed completely absurd

Collection DVD cover
                              Region 1 DVD
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Meaningless, Meaningless
  • Plan to commit suicide at Alderley Edge
  • Cold January day sunshine glory of nature
  • Too soon - I must keep looking
  • Meeting my first true Christian, Mike
  • Hospitality, kindness, the beauty of his life
  • First evening meeting Ecclesiastes 1 2
    Meaningless, meaningless, everything is
    meaningless says the preacher

Bible not Fairy Stories, but True!
  • True account of our human condition - answers to
    my questions from Mike and from tapes of
    Schaeffers lectures
  • True historically God acted in history in
    sending his Son into our world to be born, to die
    and to rise again
  • True in the lives of believers

Finally, Bowing before God
  • 1. Bowing as a creature before the Creator
  • 2. Bowing morally before the Judge who determines
    good and evil, before whom I must acknowledge my
    guilt, and who has dealt with my condemnation on
    the cross
  • 3. Bowing before God as the source of truth he
    knows the way things are, not me my reason must
    be the handmaid of his revelation

Example an easy family member
  • My father, a communist five years of prayer
  • Writing from St. Louis
  • Dying of cancer
  • Gods gracious providence LAbri nearby
  • The Spirits testimony marriage, family,
    justice, generosity
  • These are Gods gifts to us
  • They have no place in Marxism
  • His conversion

Example a difficult family member
  • My parents wonderful marriage
  • My step-father the wedding
  • His unkindness to my mother
  • His dislike of me
  • My friends advice Pray that he will die!
  • Testimony what is lovely in his life? Growing
  • A gift of fuchsias two each birthday and
  • 23 years of pain and sorrow and prayer
  • Visit to St. Louis
  • Conversion
  • Funeral

Examples from Family
  • My mother grief over bereavement
  • My brother brokenness of life after Dads death
    and a divorce I have to make it on my own
    in need I am ready to think about it is
    evolution an adequate explanation?
  • My sister the love of Christ

Example a friend
  • His wife converted 35 years ago
  • Successful, angry, anti-Christian
  • Prayer for 35 years and faithfulness of wife
  • 5 years ago invitation to lunch
  • Each year more friendly
  • Testimony of Spirit wisdom about finance
  • Honoring that wisdom with questions
  • Last October 3 lunches
  • Discussion - passionate convictions
  • Everythings relative
  • You are no relativist! (gently and with a
  • Carrying guilt to the grave
  • This is why Jesus died
  • That is too easy!
  • Not for Jesus, and not for you silent tears
  • Teasing him about conversion
  • Asking if pushing too hard

Who is sufficient for these things?
  • Not one of us
  • But, God is sufficient
  • We do not have to be clever but we are to take
    people seriously and to communicate truth
  • We are to pray and to ask for wisdom to see Gods
    testimony in each unbeliever
  • Our lives are our final apologetic
  • We have to follow Jesus into the world
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