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October 1988


Editorial Comment

Can Christ's Global Mission approach the kind of cooperation you see in a single team?

What is the Best Approach

Adoption/Partnership Makes a Difference

Who Says Agencies Don't Work Together?

Countdown 2000

Regional Centers to Get Boost at Interface Meeting

Scripture's Golden Thread

Fresh Winds Blowing

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Scripture’s Golden Thread

by Bob Blincoe

There is a Golden Thread that wends its way across the pages of the Bible, a thread God has woven into every book of the Bible . . . .

Some students of Scripture have never seen what you are about to see because they have simply studied snippets of Scripture. They have never stood back to appreciate the entire mural.

Today I want us to scan the Scriptures from start to finish, to follow a hundred trickling sources and discover the river into which they all pour. I want to follow the Golden Thread that wends its way across the pages of God’s word, and then I want to ask you how we ought to believe, how we ought to obey—from now until we die.

Let’s begin with the birth of Jesus.

The Golden Thread at Jesus’ Birth
On the night of Jesus’ birth, angels appeared to shepherds. You remember what the angel said (Luke 2:10): “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of a great joy which will be for all the people.”

How many of the people? All the people.

Now I want you to pick up that thread and follow it to see what happens next.

An old man, Simeon, was waiting in the temple for someone to come his way, because, the Bible says, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26).

And now came the most dramatic day of Simeon’s life. You can imagine the thrill he felt to hold in his hands the great joy that would be to all the people. He took up the child Jesus in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).

Israel was looking for a glorious Messiah: a Messiah to bless Israel. Yet here, apparently, was something new: a Messiah who would bless the Gentiles.

Actually, this insight of Simeon’s was not so new. God’s purpose had always been to bless all the peoples.

It is this purpose which is the Golden Thread that courses through every book of the Bible. And when a Bible-believing man or woman sees this purpose and follows it from Genesis to Revelation, then he or she can rejoice that the blessings of God have come not only to the Israelites, but to us as well. . . . And we can believe that God purposes to bless the “next” people as much as He has blessed us.

Well, what more happened at the birth of Jesus Christ?

You remember that men from the East came with gifts. The wise men asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the East, and have come to worship Him.”

Now, friends, in those times kings and princes ruled all across the East. Every country had its king, every province its royal princes. Yet these wise men sought the King of the Jews. Leading men from the Orient bowed before the Baby born in Bethlehem! It was a phenomenon. Astounding. It is the purpose of God that all the peoples of the world should worship the heavenly King.

It is His purpose to accept all the peoples of the world.

That Golden Thread again. Let’s pick it up and follow it back into the Old Testament . . . to the book of Daniel.

The Golden Thread in the Book of Daniel
You remember Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When they survived the fiery furnace into which Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown, we read in Daniel 3 that Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and he asked his advisers, “Wasn’t it three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, O King.”

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

So King Nebuchadnezzar set them free, and then made a decree:

To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. (Dan. 4:1-3)

In those words the king proclaimed the purposes of God.

You see, God desires to make His name known among all the peoples on this planet. And the purpose of our church, friends, is to make His name known among all the peoples of the world.

But there is more.

One day Daniel was tossed into the lion’s den. Everyone thought he would be killed. Yet you know what happened to him. The angel of the Lord shut the lions’ mouths. And God delivered Daniel.

So Darius the king wrote a proclamation, a decree—he had something published in the local newspapers of his day “to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land”:

May you prosper greatly!

I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. (Dan. 6:26)

You see, now is the time for all the peoples and languages to know the Lord—not just to know about Him, but, as Darius urged, to fear and reverence him. Today is the day when God purposes to bring to Himself all the peoples of the world.

This unchanging purpose is the Golden Thread which binds the Holy Book into one drama.

But there is still more. Daniel had a vision in the night.

There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped Him. (Dan. 7:13-14)

Who is this Son of Man whom all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him? What did Jesus say while on earth?

Men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (Mk. 13:26-27)

Jesus Christ is the great king over all the earth. A great, glorious king. He will summon a people from every culture in every country, on every continent. This theme threads its way through all the books of the Bible.

Even the small books of the Bible carry this great theme. For example, the book of Habbakuk.

The Golden Thread in the Prophets
You remember the vision that God gave Habbakuk: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).

Doesn’t that fire your mind with awe and deep worship? Worthy is the Lord who will sweep across the waters of this world, until His great glory fills the libraries in every land, until the time when all people will be free, and until the knowledge of the Lord fills the minds of men and women in every place on our planet!

That is the Golden Thread that I am talking about. That is the destiny to which the chariot of God is relentlessly turning. A destiny more desirable than the dreams of humankind, a finish line more hopeful than the utopias of the philosophers. Even as we speak, world history is converging toward this finish line, toward a destiny worthy of a God who so loved the world that all who believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Well, please pick up this Golden Thread and follow it further back into history. Let’s walk back to the great day of Isaiah the prophet.

I shall always remember how hopeful I felt the first time I heard of the feast for all the peoples of the planet. Isaiah foretells the splendor of that future feast:

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. (Is. 25:6-8)

How about that feast for all peoples? Where can God rent a banquet hall big enough for such a feast? How many people groups do you suppose live on our good earth?

Beneath the map of the world one finds a checkerboard of people groups.

Just for fun, how many people groups do you suppose have no church in their culture? Research indicates that perhaps 16,000 people groups have no church in their culture.

Suppose you hold in your hands a globe and put your finger on a country. Let’s say Ethiopia. Now suppose you could peel back the map and look right into the country. What might you see?

In Ethiopia you would see a marvelous mosaic of languages, close to 80 in all. Some have a church in their language, others do not. Yet God says that He will make for all peoples a feast of wine and meat. He loves ALL the cultures of the world.

Why did He make so many languages, so many ways of life? Because He wants His feast to be rich with diversity.

God was once thought to be a God of the Jews. No more. He is now accepting all the peoples of the world. This is the Golden Thread that wends its way across the pages of the Bible. This is the purpose for our church in its life and ministry in the final years of this century.

A church could busy itself with small affairs and really miss out on the destiny and ministry to which God purposed for His people! We who seek to be like Christ must know more clearly the ministry He modeled.

We could go on, if only we had the time. . . . The Psalms are packed with the purpose of God for the peoples of the world. And you notice one fabulous fact in the Psalms: God’s people get jubilant when they sing about the worldwide purposes of God.

The Golden Thread in the Psalms
“The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice,” says Psalm 97:1. And Psalm 47 says:

Clap your hands, all you nations;
Shout to God with cries of joy!
How awesome the Lord the Most High,
the great king over all the earth!
. . . God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham. (Ps. 47:1-2, 8-9)

I tell you, I feel the juices of life pump through my heart each time I hear this truth told: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!” (Ps. 100:1).

Many people have memorized Psalm 46:10, but only the first line. Listen to the whole verse and it makes your hair stand on end:

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

The thread that connects the Bible is this joy: that now all the peoples—not only one race or religion—all peoples are accepted by God through Jesus Christ the Lord.

And back when Moses and the people received the law of God, there was a law for all the children of Abraham: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Ex. 22:21).

In every age, the people who take part in the purposes of the Lord must love their neighbors on account of the love God has showed to us.

The rabbis of old recited a song which put this truth into Hebrew poetry:

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us;

May your ways be known on earth
and your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.

God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him. (Psalm 67)

Let us go now to the very beginning of the Bible. Do we find this purpose of gathering the peoples of our planet even at the beginning of time?

Blessings for the Nations
Turn back the pages of your Bible to Genesis 12, back to the roots of divine revelation. There the Lord said to Abram,

“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:1-3)

What is happening in this overture, this starting gate of history? God assigned blessing to Abraham so that Abraham would bless other people. And what was the blessing with which he would bless the nations?

I believe the blessings he received and the blessings which every Christian can count and treasure are at least six in number.

This is only one way to summarize Christian faith. You may have other blessings which you could well add to this short list. Yet this cluster has been uncovered in some of the oldest pages in church history.

First, every Christian has the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, our power for holy living. He is the whisper of God when all around us is silent, the yearning we feel for holy living, the one who sounds an alarm when we stray from the right path. He hears our true confessions, and assures us that we belong to God. Whoever does not have the Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ.

Second, we are blessed with the holy catholic church, the bride of Christ. The beauty of this bride is not yet perfect; but we see her as she one day soon will be: holy, worldwide, rejoicing at her king’s coming.

The third blessing: the communion of the saints, your local fellowship of believers.

The fourth star in this constellation of blessings is the forgiveness of sins.

Fifth is the promise of the resurrection of the body.

You recall what Jesus said to Thomas after He’d been raised from the dead: “Put your fingers in my side and in my hands; I am not a ghost.” And then He said, “Give me something to eat.”

Oh, friends, what a joyous hope we have! A hope for a world of color, taste, sight, sound, food, reality. We shall not end up as shadows in the clouds. No, we were made with desires for a real world, and we shall rise again with bodies, only immortal beyond our present comprehension.

Finally, we have the promise of everlasting life. The time is coming and now is when “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Of course, you recognize these six blessings as the closing lines of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

I love this creed because it summarizes all the good things we have and the good things we have to give away to the world God loves. This ancient creed is not some cold, forgettable formula for religious people. No, it’s a chorus of joy for the people of the Lord.

“To know Christ is to know His benefits,” said Melancthon. Friends, you are blessed!

Blessed to Bless the Nations
God told Abraham, “I will bless you, so that you will be a blessing”—a blessing to all the families of the earth. That’s the plan of God. That’s God’s purpose for the children of Abraham. And that is God’s assignment for the people of God today. Receive the blessings. Believe the blessings. Share the blessings with the families of the earth . . . so that they may bless themselves.

Paul wrote to the Romans, “We received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Rom. 1:5).

Why did we receive grace? “To call people from among all the Gentiles.”

Paul ends the book of Romans, “Now to Him who is able to establish you so that all nations might believe and obey Him” (Rom. 16:27).

In Galatians 3:8 we read, “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’”

I was stunned to discover anew and afresh what the gospel really is. The gospel is the Golden Thread that we traced from Abraham on: “all nations will be blessed . . . .” There is no other gospel, only the one: God now accepts all peoples through Jesus Christ.

Before I close I must share with you one final, personal verse. Listen and tell me, does this have something to do with the meaning of your life as well?

Galatians 3:14 says God redeemed us “so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.” Friends, I ask you: have you considered recently the meaning of your life—that is, Christ’s meaning for your life (not something you conjured for yourself)?

Does this not seem to fit? “Christ redeemed us so that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles.”

God summons us today to believe in such a way as to bless the next person . . . and especially to bless the peoples of the world who are not yet blessed.

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