By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director, Missionary for Missions Education and Customization, Missions Innovator Specialist (WMU, SBC)
COLUMBIA, Md.— Thurman, a missionary in the Pacific Rim, was leading a Bible study in a prison. Along with him on this particular day were volunteers from another country. The Bible study was going well as prisoners were singing praise songs and listening intently to the Bible being taught. Suddenly there was a loud commotion and before anyone knew what was happening, a prison break was in progress. A young woman from the group of volunteers was held captive. Thurman feared what might happen to her should she not be released. In an effort to free her he, offered himself as a substitute.
The dialogue continued and the confusion grew as the minutes passed. In the midst of the chaos, Thurman saw an opportunity to free the young woman. As he reached for the gun being held by the prisoner, he was stabbed in the ribs. His effort was successful and the young woman was freed. Thurman and his team were able to escape the danger.
A few years later Thurman was being treated in an emergency room in the U.S. The nurse examining Thurman noticed the scar from the stab wound. Being curious she asked, “How did you get this scar?”
Thurman responded, “In prison.”
Shocked that such a kind man would be in prison she followed with, “Where were you in prison?” Thurman, “In Asia.”
More confused than ever the nurse asked, “What is the scar from?” Thurman explained, “The scar is from a stab wound I sustained during a prison break.”
The nurse was more than confused by Thurman’s responses! You see, she did not know the whole story. She was only getting bits and pieces. As you might imagine, she filled in the blanks with something quite different than what really happened.
When we do not have a grasp of all of Scripture it is like missing parts to a story. Maybe we know that God is the creator and that Jesus was born and came to die on a cross, but we miss all that happened in the middle that links those events together. Therefore, we fill in the blanks with something quite different than what God intended.
For example, the first sacrifice was made when God killed the animals to make clothes for Adam and Eve. All throughout Biblical history we read of sacrifices being offered for the payment of sin. No matter how many sacrifices were offered it was never enough. Man still sinned requiring yet another sacrifice. When we put all those pieces together, it does not take long to realize that man is always going to sin and man will always need a sacrifice to pay for his sins unless there can be a sacrifice that is good enough for all generations to come. That is where Christ comes in.
Many missionaries around the world are using chronological Bible storying to tell the whole story in order for the need of a Savior to be completely understood. By the time learners reach the New Testament they are asking, “When will God send a sacrifice that will cover all sins?” They are ready for Christ. You see, the Old Testament was not written for its historical value alone, it was written so that we could see the need for the ultimate sacrifice, Christ. Chronological storying has been so successful overseas that some are adapting it for use in America
Chronological storying shows the difference between God’s way and Man’s way. Throughout history, many have tried to do things Man’s way only to find themselves in deep trouble. In our modern culture, many are still trying Man’s way of doing things only to find that it does not work out as planned. With God’s way, those who walked before us, those who walk with us, and those will follow us will find that it is indeed the only way to be truly happy. It is with God’s way that the sacrifices can finally end. Hebrews 9:28 (NIV) says, “so Christ was sacrificed ONCE to take away the sins of many people…”
Take some time and compare the following stories of God’s Way versus man’s way.
God’s Way Man’s Way
1. Creation of Adam and Eve Temptation of Adam and Eve
(Gen. 1:26-28, 2:7-25) (Gen. 3:1-6)
2. God judges sin The fall of Adam and Eve
(Gen. 3:14-24) (Gen. 3:1-13)
3. Cain and Abel sacrifice Cain kills Abel
(Gen. 4:1-5) (Gen. 4:6-16)
4. Noah sacrifices Noah and the flood
(Gen. 8:1-22) (Gen. 6:5-7; 24)
5. Abraham and Isaac Sodom and Gomorrah
(Gen. 12:1-4; 22:1-8) (Gen. 19:1-29)
6. The Passover The Death of Pharaoh’s First Son
(Ex. 12:1-13) (Ex. 12:29-36)
7. The Tabernacle Sacrifice Giving and Breaking of the Law
(Lev. 1:4-5; 16:20-22) (Ex. 10:1-17; 32: 1-35)
8. Bronze Snake Pagan Idol Worship
(Numbers 21:4-9) (Judges 2:6-23; Jer. 10:2-10)
9. The Story of Jesus Abraham and Lazarus
(Matthew 27:11-28; 20) (Luke 16:19-31)
10 Jesus Returns Judgment
(Luke 24:50-51, Acts 1:6-10) (Hebrews 9:27)
We know from Romans 3:23 that we have all sinned. We know from Genesis to Revelation that sin requires punishment, a sacrifice. Now we know why Christ had to come.
There is a big difference when we know all the pieces of the story. Praise God that He gave us the whole story!