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Image by Milad Fakurian
  • Writer's pictureFirst Christian Church of Chicago

Progresssive revelation in practice

Why is Isaiah 6 structured the way it is? If the intention was to simply describe an encounter with God it could have ended after 6:4. If the thrust was to produce conviction of sin we could have stopped at 6:5. If Isaiah wanted to announce the possibility of redemption he could have ended the story at 6:7.

Yet, we have 6:8 (and the five verses which follow. They are crucial to the story of Isaiah. They are equally crucial to us if we want to undergo the transformation which Isaiah did.

"Who shall we send? Who will go for us?" Isaiah is all over it. He is ready to go. Why does Isaiah say yes with an immediacy Pastors rarely witness when they ask for volunteers.

Mission is a key theme throughout Isaiah. The call for mission is fundamental to Isaiah's story. It is essential to the story of God throughout the Old Testament. It is part and parcel of God's covenant relationships all the way back to the initial promise of worldwide blessing to Abraham. As we move into the New Testament the disciples are informed that they will be witnesses of their encounter with Jesus.

The sequence of events leading up to 6:8 is essential. Without the encounter with God, conviction doesn't occur. Without conviction there is no recognition of the need for redemption. Without being cleansed and forgiven Isaiah wouldn't be equipped to answer the call.

Is the reason so many Christians are resistant to sharing what God has done in their lives that they have not experienced a life-changing vision of God that forced them to confront their sin so they could embrace their need of salvation? We need a soul-shaking encounter with God. We need a soul-shocking sense of conviction. We need a soul-shaping awareness of cleansing forgiveness. If we don't have that story, we won't just not have a story to tell. We will lack the conviction to share what we do know.

Could it be that the reason so few Christians engage in evangelism is that they have never witnessed God in his glory, been knocked to their knees in awareness of their sin, and truly had their souls refreshed in God’s grace? Guilting them into witness doesn't work. Mission depends on having that story to tell. It can't be produced artificially.

Perhaps in a culture that has claimed such deep Christian roots, we have made it easy for people to slide into the church. Lip service can be paid to confession, repentance and living for Christ. It doesn’t have to cost us much. We don't really need to meet God, practice repentance, or be transformed by God's grace. We simply have to show up to church every once in a while (and even that condition has become more lax), and appear as Christian to some constituent part of the body.

If we haven't been convert we have everything to lose by evangelism. However, if we already consider ourselves dead because a soul-shaking encounter with God there is nothing to lose. That person died to become new. That is a story worth sharing.

When is the last time you shared your faith? Could that be either because you never really met Christ, or because it was so long ago that you last encountered him that you barely recall him?


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