Dear Friends,

The answer to the question is “yes” and “no”. In John 17:20, Jesus says, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…” Jesus is praying for His disciples. His prayer is working at several levels at the same time. On one hand He is speaking to the eleven men in the room with Him. One the other hand He is speaking down the ages to every believer reading the words. It is both real prayer and real teaching at the same time.

To the eleven disciples in the room Jesus is empowering, authorizing, and legitimizing their role in writing and recognizing what we now call the New Testament. We need to understand that the New Testament is the divinely inspired apostolic witness to Jesus. On the other hand, Jesus is also telling them that they need to preach, teach and share the word. It is not enough to just read the Bible aloud, it must be personally shared, explained and illustrated.

To you and me reading John 17:20, we learn several things. First of course is that Jesus is praying for you and me. Second, He is teaching us to accept and believe the apostolic testimony to Himself. He wants us to treat the New Testament as trustworthy, true and life-changing because it ultimately comes from Him. Third; if the Apostles were not to merely read the Bible aloud, but also preach, teach, share, explain, illustrate what it says, then we need to do the same thing.

So, do we need new stories to share the Gospel today? “Yes” and “no”. The answer is clearly “yes”. The Lord wants us to use culturally and personally relevant illustrations to help people understand the Bible. A good story can powerfully touch the heart and open the mind. He wants us to use stories from our own life which illustrate how gracious and life changing the Lord is, and how the Gospel really is good news. On the other hand, the answer to our question is also “no”. Jesus is God, the Son of God. He is the Saviour. He is the Lord, He is the Way and the Truth and the Life and no one can come to the Father but through Him. He is not just “God” for a few people. No, He is the Lord of the whole earth; every people group living, dead and still to come. So the Apostolic testimony which He commissions, legitimates, authorizes, and empowers is for every people group in every age. By implication, it is to be translated into the heart language of people so they can hear it. In this sense, the Lord does not need new “stories” from us. While we are to bear witness to the word, we are to also read and tell what the Bible says to our hearers. God’s word written has power from God, because it is His word written. Only God who knows the heart of every person who will ever live, could cause words to be written that can speak to every person who will ever live. His word written is to both inspire our stories and witness, but it also works as a limit to our stories and witness. His word “judges” our stories – our stories do not “judge” His word. Only He can reveal His own heart; His own self; and His own Good News with the power to make us right with Himself.

George+