By John Soper
Long before I ever dreamed of becoming a pastor (or even of being a Christian), I took a class in public speaking. There I learned “the Communicator’s Formula”: “Tell them what you are going to say, tell them what you want to say and then tell them what you said.” That is good advice indeed, and it has served me well for nearly 40 years.
A few years later, as a student of biblical theology, I was intrigued by a pattern in Scripture sometimes identified as “Prophecy, Fact and Interpretation.” It underscores the reality that all through the progress of revelation, God alerted us through the phenomenon of prophecy to what He was planning to do. He then acted redemptively in salvation history and, finally, explained (after the event) the significance of what He did.
In fact, in a rather simplistic way, one could summarize the whole Bible through this interpretive grid. The Old Testament is full of prophecy and types that tell us in advance about what God is going to do to redeem the world. The Gospels record for us the facts regarding the invasion of human history by the God-man and the sacrifice that He made on our behalf. And finally, the Epistles explain the meaning of the cross and Resurrection and help us to understand both what God did in the person of Jesus and what it means to us who are the objects of His redeeming love.
Jesus used this same approach when He met the disciples on the road to Emmaus on the day of His Resurrection. With His identity hidden, Jesus asked them why they were so downcast. After hearing their explanation of the events surrounding His crucifixion and their own doubts concerning the report of the women regarding His Resurrection, the Master proceeded to open the Scriptures to explain all that they taught about Him.
I have no idea how long it took them to walk to Emmaus (about 8 miles from Jerusalem). We are not told which passages from the Law, the Prophets and the Writings Jesus used. I can, however, make a few educated guesses.
I’m pretty sure He would have started in Genesis, emphasizing the role He had in the Creation of the universe. When he referenced the words of God, “Let us make man in our own image,” He might even have asked, “Whom do you think God was talking to there?”
In retelling the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall, I think He would have taken the time to explain the first promise of a Savior–the serpent will bruise his heel, but he will crush the serpent’s head. (Gen. 3:15) He would then have explained how that was fulfilled on the cross.
He could have chosen a hundred other passages to teach Cleopas and his companion “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah? “That was about me!” The Passover lamb? “It was all about me!” The serpent in the wilderness? “Me again.” The opening words of Psalm 22? “Have you heard anything like that recently?” Isaiah 53? “That’s a description of me.” The fourth man in the fiery furnace? “Me again!”
By the time they arrived in Emmaus, those disciples had learned to read Scripture in a whole new way. The lesson they had learned was this: It’s all about Jesus!
It’s All About Jesus
When I first became acquainted with The Christian and Missionary Alliance, I was perplexed by what I thought to be a lack of doctrinal precision. I wanted to know if this church was Reformed or Wesleyan in its theology and was shocked to discover that it was not distinctly either. I tested the waters with a few other theological “litmus tests” and found that though its commitment to the authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ and a few other basic issues was unshakable, The Alliance took no definite position on many secondary issues. The people I met did not want to debate theology. They just wanted to talk about Jesus Christ–our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King.
Thirty-seven years later, I sometimes hear people say that The Christian and Missionary Alliance does not have a theology and that our emphasis upon the Fourfold Gospel of Jesus Christ is too simplistic. Perhaps they are right, but I want to hold on to the Emmaus road lesson: It really is all about Jesus!
What you can do
The prayers of the Alliance family enable our workers to take the whole gospel to the whole world. Pray with the rest of the Alliance family, using our weekly Alliance Prayer Requests.
- Give to the Great Commission Fund (GCF) and partner with Alliance workers, who are engaged in innovative ministries that open doors to share the hope that only Christ offers.
- Give now
Read the rest of the Series on the Fourfold Gospel by Rev. John Soper on the alife magazine website.
- Jesus Christ our Savior
- Jesus Christ our Sanctifier
- Jesus Christ our Healer
- Jesus Christ our Coming King
Read about the Fourfold Gospel, as defined by Alliance founder A. B. Simpson.