The ‘Spirit of Prophecy’ sounds like something so deep, mysterious and powerful. And it is. And yet the testimony of Jesus is so simple.
Jesus died. Jesus rose again. I found forgiveness and new life with him. I’m following him.
Does that sound deep and mysterious? Not really. But it’s this simple testimony that the saints hold onto as they overcome dragons and beasts and whatever other horrors and attacks might come against them… it’s this simple testimony that they hang on to against all, not shrinking from death. It’s with this simple testimony that they overcome. (Rev 12:11)
Prophecy itself is a pretty intimidating word, but the spirit of prophecy is even crazier sounding. If prophecy is what God says, then we could think of the spirit of prophecy being the inspiration, the breath, the focus of everything God says.
And this is what the testimony of Jesus is. Yes, it’s that big.
After all, the life of Jesus is what all the prophets were longing and straining to understand and communicate. The life of Jesus is the focus of all those words spoken over hundreds of years.
The prophets … searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and the circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow … Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
In (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
The spirit of all of God’s communication is summed up and given to us in the life of Christ. And now he’s sending his children that have believed in Jesus to go forward all over the world and reveal him to all nations, speaking every language.
This weekend, me and a local friend went out to try and share the good news (our testimony of Jesus) in a darker neighborhood. It’s always an exciting step of faith to walk into one of these places “Ok with this in mind. “Alright” we think, “how is God going to connect us to some people here and make his good news known through our mouths…” I love that feeling. It always seems impossible, but we know who we’re following.
We went into a little tea shop. I just love the way this particular place was designed. There benches all around the room, and a number of tiny tables scrunched together in a circle. So, wherever you sit, you have to be close to somebody. It looks a little bit like this:
We took a seat in the corner at a table with one young guy sitting by himself. He was reading a really interesting book which, as he explained, was challenging the idea that people need to attach themselves to human leaders and intermediaries to get to God. Obviously this provided a good springboard for conversation and we got talking about the Christ and the way to God.
After chatting for a while, his older brother and another guy showed up and joined us. They were all very smart, quite religious, extremely eloquent, and eager to talk about finding the truth. In this culture it seems that conversation is a beautiful art, and most people are like skilled musicians, ready and eager to jump in and improvise.
Soon a table full of tea was set before us and words were flying back and forth as we talked about life, the books of the prophets, what God wants from us, and salvation.
I talked about Jesus, about how he died and rose again, and about the power of God to overcome sin and live a new life with a new heart. As I talked, the first guy in particular really understood that Christ had given his life for me and was now my source of life and strength that allowed me to live holy. He understood how God had taken away my sins in Christ (Jeremiah 50:20) how he had given me a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and how he had written his commands on my heart. (Jeremiah 31:33) As we sat there and talked the knowledge of Christ was formed in the conversation. And believe me, this has a far sweeter smell than those steamy cups of tea and linden you saw in the picture.
They had a hard time understanding how our ‘religion’ fit in with the rest of the story, after Judaism etc… These were Muslims guys, and like many they thought we would believe something like this:
In their eyes, God sends us a book of the law, giving us a set of rules to be lived by and to judge us with. Whenever one of these books (or religions) gets neglected and corrupted and things start getting really messed up, God sends another book, to clarify and give people a clear set of rules to follow again. They believe this kept on happening with all the different books, until finally their book came with the promise to have it protected for eternity.
But we weren’t talking about following just one rule book. Our story is so much bigger than this! I tried to explain how these books weren’t corrupted and out of date versions of the same thing. Actually it’s one big story that was given to us in pieces.
- The law was given
- Salvation was promised
- Salvation came in Jesus!
My local friend drew a little diagram on a sheet of paper explaining how this all worked.
It was all a big long story, culminating in Jesus. As he drew his pen over the line on the right side, he talked about how he never thought he could believe in something so simple, so ridiculous. (After all, he was a really smart, well-read, knowledgeable, and religious person. And the news of Jesus just seemed way more foolish and basic then everything he had ever learned and trusted.) “But,” he said, “that simplicity destroyed me. After all, he came to destroy everything.” (1 Cor 1:19)
And all those guys sat there, amazed to see this guy who had given up everything for this crazy new message of Jesus that they had just heard. They had just been confronted with the Spirit of Prophecy.
Think of all the prophets over all those centuries of history, of all the scrolls and scrolls of deep and mysterious sayings from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi and all the rest. Think of all those words before kings, those head-spinning visions, and chilling oracles.
Jesus is the crown jewel of all of that. He’s the precious treasure that they were all hinting at. He’s at the center of all God’s communication. He’s the culmination of all God’s wisdom and action. He’s the big secret that’s been kept hidden for all those ages.
And we just spilled this secret over a cup of tea with some guys we met ten minutes ago.