“Bringing the world into focus
through the lens of Scripture”

Time To Equip Ourselves

Before sitting down to write this article, I checked on social media to find out what was on my friends’ minds. One faithful friend of Koinonia House – TL from Brazil – posted just four words: “Time to Equip Ourselves.” Thank you TL. This phrase is the timely title for this article and the focus of its message. The month of December will be filled with messages about the birth of Jesus, traditions of decorating, baking, and wrapping, favorite carols dusted off from their eleven-month hibernation, and so much more. For many of us, family gatherings include (along with all the festivity and fun) the rehashing of debates over matters political and theological. My ambition for this article for you, Gracious Reader, is to provide you with some new material – short soundbites – that you can include in these conversations. Think of each of these as seasoning – salt and pepper – to change the flavor of the discussion.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Matthew 5:13

Preach the word! Be ready in (the Christmas) season and out of (the Christmas) season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:2

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

1 Peter 3:15

So in no particular order, the following paragraphs contain conversation starters and straightforward topics that prepare us during this “time to equip ourselves” to share our faith this month and throughout 2024.

PROPHECY – Familiar to all who have listened regularly to Chuck’s teachings is the statement (or words like it) that “The Old Testament contains over 300 prophecies concerning the birth, life, death and resurrection of JESUS CHRIST.”1 A significantly greater number of Bible passages foretell details of His second coming.

If God went to such great lengths for Messiah’s first coming, what should we expect for the second coming? The return of Christ to rule the planet Earth has over 1,800 references in the Old Testament. Seventeen books give prominence to the event in the Old Testament. There are 318 references to this in the New Testament, and they are found in 216 chapters. That means twenty-three of the twenty-seven books give prominence to this event. For every prophecy of Christ’s first coming that we’ve detailed, there are eight of His second coming.2

During December I often refer to the following prophecy:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

Micah 5:2

Written over 700 years before JESUS was born in Bethlehem, the fulfillment of the prophecy is undisputed. It is familiar to all who know the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem. The Dead Sea Scroll 4Q81 and the Septuagint both contain Micah 5.3 You can read about the manger square and see a picture of it as well.4 This prophecy is well-known and well-established and is both relevant and reliable when used either in casual conversation or in serious debate.

SIR WILLIAM MITCHELL RAMSAY – Born in the mid-1800s, Ramsay became famous as a British archaeologist and New Testament scholar. He was particularly interested in refuting (though ultimately confirming) the veracity and accuracy of Luke’s writing – the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. He travelled to Asia Minor as a skeptic, and he returned to his home as a believer!

“I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without any prejudice in favour of the conclusion which I shall now attempt to justify to the reader. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavourable to it for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not lie then in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely but more recently I found myself often brought in contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography antiquities and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvellous truth.”5

Few people today recognize his name, and this is an appealing conversation starter that God has used in my life to dive deeper into honest scholarship concerning the Bible and the Word.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

SIR ROBERT ANDERSON – Chuck relies on the book authored by Sir Robert Anderson The Coming Prince, in his calculation of the seventy weeks of Daniel prophecy.6 Anderson served Scotland Yard from 1888 to 1901 during which Jack the Ripper became infamous.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was then just starting the investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders, which he thought were grossly over-sensationalized. Almost immediately after being promoted, Anderson went on vacation in Switzerland on doctor’s orders, leaving the Metropolitan Police leaderless during the biggest challenge in its history. He was called back after a month because of increased bad publicity over the Ripper murders.7

I suspect he prefers to be remembered for his definitive research and defense of his thesis regarding the Daniel prophecy. And his take on the issue of “faith” might be useful in upcoming conversations:

Faith is not the normal attitude of the human mind towards things Divine, the earnest doubter, therefore, is entitled to respect and sympathy. But what judgment shall be meted out to those who delight to proclaim themselves doubters, while claiming to be ministers of a religion of which FAITH is the essential characteristic?8

Introduce your family to these two influential scholars from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. Or choose from among your favorite authors and adventurers.

A PERSONAL TESTIMONY – In the summer of 2010, I spent nine days in hospital fighting an undiagnosed virus. During this time, I lost nearly two stone (28 pounds) and left hospital weary and wimpy. Only a few days later, I returned to the same hospital after suffering a stroke – an infarction of the cerebellum. I spent another four days in hospital, and when I left, I could not stand without a walker. While I was alert and awake, I sang over and over this familiar chorus. Do you know it?

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek

You are my all in all

Seeking You as a precious jewel Lord,
to give up I’d be a fool

You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God Worthy is Your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising up again I bless Your name

You are my all in all

When I fall down You pick me up
When I am dry You fill my cup

You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God Worthy is Your name

I don’t wish my July on anybody, and I wish my August on everybody. My recovery was swift and complete. I have no known deficits (some of my closest family and friends question this diagnosis!) In late August, my family travelled to the annual New York State Fair, and I told everybody I saw about God’s mercy and might for me and my family. We need to proclaim the mighty works of God in our lives. This is a great way to “change the subject” from the contentious to the Creator! What is your story of God’s goodness? Let’s move past “God is good … all the time. All the time … God is good.” Let’s tell of His goodness!

Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

Psalm 111:1-4

I love sharing this testimony. In fact, I regularly handwash the dishes, and whenever I do, I do so as a praise and thanksgiving to God for His wonderful work in my life. After the stroke, I could not stand securely enough to wash the dishes.

CONCLUSION – These are but a few of the tools in my toolbox to turn the conversation toward the REASON FOR THE SEASON. You will hear the cry to “Keep Christ in Christmas.” These are practical tips for doing just that. And I hope this article has brought to your mind many more of your favorite vignettes. You might want to get a copy of Hidden Treasures, which is available from the Koinonia House store.9 My wife and I throughout the years have gifted these to church members and family and friends!

Let me know if I succeeded in using this TIME TO EQUIP OURSELVES. Let me know your favorite topic or testimony. As always, the author welcomes your emails to chrisc@khouse.org. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Disclaimer

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