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"Building Bridges", Jeff Graf's notes

A bridge-building God

--He spoke in a known language
A “heart” language

--Began to explain the inexplicable

Answered humanity’s most fundamental questions
Is there a God, and if so, how do I relate to Him?
Why am I here, and how do I relate to the people living with me?

God’s starting points

Sin, grace, and atonement

--Anchored firmly within the culture of the day

Kingdom Culture

--Relationship to earthly culture
Above it (Überkultur)
Vestiges remain in every earthly culture
Biblical culture and not Western or Eastern

--Three missionary goals

Find what remains of Kingdom Culture
Build a bridge from it to the Kingdom of Heaven
Give way to the Holy Spirit to work

Kingdom Culture in the Old Testament

--Ten Commandments
First four – our relationship with God
Last six – our relationship with one another

--God’s use of cultural images

Shepherd (Psalm 23)
Vineyard (Isaiah 5)
Husband (Isaiah 54:5)

--God’s use of story

Noah to illustrate saving grace by faith
Exodus to illustrate redemption from the slavery of sin
Choosing the younger over the older or the weaker over the stronger to illustrate the working of His heart

Kingdom Culture in the New Testament

--The Beatitudes

--Commonly understood cultural metaphors

A man sowing seed in a field (Matt 13:24)
A mustard seed (Matt 13:31)
A woman putting yeast into bread (Matt 13:33)
A treasure hidden in a field (Matt 13:44)
A merchant seeking fine pearls (Matt 13:45)
A fishing net (Matt 13:47)
A head of a household (Matt 13:52)

Apostolic bridges

--John 1:1, 14 God used Koine Greek / Greeks related to logos "the Word" / cultural image: "dwelt [as in a tent; tabernacled]" / related story: "beheld".

--Hebrews 1:1, 2 "prophets" (v 1) culturally accepted, anchor point; "Son" (v 2) new revelation,
bridge to Kingdom culture

Bridges in Acts (Acts 1:8)

--Peter’s first sermon (Acts 2:14-36)

--Paul’s first sermon (Acts 13:16-41)

Starting points for missionaries

Firm confidence in the Lord to be able to prayerfully follow His leading

--Know the “heart language” of the people and use it to gain new insights of how the culture operates

--Practice living using the incarnational principle

Incarnational Principle (John 1:14)

--Hard to find the term in a dictionary and confusing on the Web

--Creator of the Ends of the Earth, who took on human flesh

--An example to follow and yet much more

Living the incarnational principle

--Only Jesus did it perfectly.

--Missionaries do it partially.

Fearless failures

--Certain to fail (at least once)

--Learn and laugh

--Language acquisition

Adult mind with a toddler’s vocabulary
Donde? versus Como?

Subtle and sometimes stunning successes (1 Cor 3:7)

--Propositional bridges

--Story first with a proposition for support – Melanesian approach

--Proposition first with a story for support – Western approach

Going into the culture-to-kingdom construction business in our community

--Just modern or post-modern?

--Same approach

Learn the language
Understand the culture
Find an anchor point

--Take an apologetics class

Leave room for mystery (John 3:8)

--Fear of mystery
Lack of understanding and control
Christian abuses

--Balance theology and God’s sovereignty

Our Challenge

--Learn the language

--Learn the culture

--Be fearless failures

--Be ready to experience subtle and sometimes stunning successes

--Relate propositionally but don’t forget your story

--Leave room for the miraculous


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