Contrast Captures Our Attention
Be FOUND Bible Study Method - Part 7
God chooses to use contrast to capture our attention. Contrasts are anything that is opposite. This could be found in words, phrases, sentences, people, actions, images, mindsets, events, and even places. Contrasts help to clearly communicate the overall meaning of the passage. Contrasts outline the obvious options available to us and then persuade us to pick one option over the other. The biggest contrast I can imagine is that between heaven and hell.
With God. Without God.
“Now this is eternal life: that you may know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” John 17:3
This is Jesus saying this about Himself. He is actually praying to God and talking about Himself in third person. Let’s zoom out a bit and see what He says right before He said those words referenced above 17:3.
We see that chapters 13-17 are Jesus’ literal last words to His disciples before He was arrested. Keep in mind that the frame of reference is especially important here, as we see that He uttered those words only 24 hours before the cross.
Chapter 16 sets up chapter 17 with Jesus talking about his death and resurrection and then closing at the very end of chapter 16 with, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I do want to pause here and point out the obvious contrast between the peace we have in Christ and the trouble we will have in the world. Again, this is highlighting through contrast a choice we have that should be obvious: peace in Christ or trouble in the world.
What do you choose?
What a beautiful last verse of chapter 16 that leads us into chapter 17 reminding us that we can take heart because He has already “overcome the world.”
Jesus is saying in John 17:3 that you can experience heaven on earth just by knowing Him, by knowing God.
Not knowing God is a sure way to know the enemy, who is real. The only way to realize the real lies of the enemy is to have a real and personal knowledge of God. When you are in the Word of God, you can’t help but get to know the heart of God, as His pulse beats within the syllables of every single Word.
“I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious. To stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth. I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap, in mercy, He shall give me a host of children that I may lead through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose fingers' ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, smell His garments, and smile into my Lover's eyes, ah, then, not stars, nor children, shall matter--only Himself.” ― Jim Elliot
Let’s touch heaven together in this space as we study the bible to know God more…
The bible study method that we have been learning here in this space is called FOUND, which is an inductive approach to help you discover tools to dig in and discover the beauty of who God is as He would choose to define Himself, because it is only then, in the Light of who He is, can you truly be found!
(First and foremost, pause to pray. It can be as simple as “God guide us into your Word.”)
F - Frame of Reference: who the author is, who the o.g. audience is, where the passage fits into the book as a whole and the bible as a whole.
O - Observe:
Who are the pronouns referring to?
What is the function of the conjunction?
When something is compared or contrasted, take note!
Where is the action? Taking a deeper look at the verbs.
Why is something listed or repeated? God uses these tools as exclamation marks!
How is God choosing to reveal who He is in this passage? His character? His pursuit of mankind?
U - Understand (in light of what you have observed) what it meant to the original audience.
N - Now (in light of what you have observed and in spite of the culture and time difference between us and that O.G. audience) Now, what does it mean to me?
D - Dwell. Simply “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” Col 3:16
We are still in the O step, as we are learning to observe the who, what, when, where, why and how of the Found bible study method! Today we will dive into the incredible difference that contrasts offer, as they help to discern the overall meaning of the passage. Feel free to look back into the previous articles here on ChristianWeek to see what we have learned so far!
Remember, do not get overwhelmed. When you feel yourself starting to hyperventilate just take a deep breath and come at digesting the Word as you would an elephant - one bite at a time. Give yourself permission to just use one tool or two!
You will actually not use all of these tools for each passage you study. Not every passage will have a contrast, but just by pausing here with me in this space to study this tool, your mind will be blown by how many contrasts there really are in the bible! Contrasts are something you may not have ever paused to consider before now. So, lean in and consider them with me now…
Let’s take a look at Psalm 1, which is structured in its entirety of contrasts and comparisons!
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
You will notice that I highlighted the conjunction “but.” Specific conjunctions like this one, can be clues set there on purpose to let you know that a contrast or a comparison is coming up! What does this passage clearly contrast? One who marinates in sin with the wicked vs one who meditates and delights on the Lord. As these contrasts and comparisons are so clear here, you can even at this point, line up columns for contrasts and comparisons:
|walks in step with the wicked||delights in the law of the Lord|
|stands in the same way of sinners||meditates on His law day and night|
|sits in the company of mockers||the Lord watches over their way|
|will not stand in the judgment nor in the assembly of the righteous||whatever they do prospers|
|leads to destruction|
|chaff, which has no root, moisture, greenness, nor fruitfulness; they have nothing in them solid and substantial; they are destitute of all that is good; are vain and empty; without the knowledge of God and Christ (https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/psalms-1-4.html) useless, worthless||like a tree planted by streams of water|
|blown away by the wind||yields its fruit in season|
|whose leaf does not wither|
Now, in light of what you have learned, which path will you choose? Considering the greatest contrast shown starkly in vs 3 and vs 6., which “show us the extreme end of two contrasting paths: prosperity of the blessed and perishing of the wicked.” (https://adventureswithgod.blog/2019/01/12/ever-notice-all-the-opposites-in-the-bible-learning-to-recognize-contrasts-in-inductive-bible-study/).
Choose. Make no mistake- this is a choice. Will you willingly keep in step with the wicked or will you choose to delight in the Lord and meditate on His law day and night? I ask you- what part of the 24 hours is day and night?
Yep. All of it.
Would you accept a challenge I have for you for this week? It’ll just take 4 minutes a day.
Take the book of Ephesians and read one chapter a day. That’s it. Did you know it only takes about 4 minutes to read one chapter of Ephesians? That’s it- just 4 minutes! Who’s with me? So much flavor can come from just a 4 minute marinade.
Remember, as you read, to have these tools in the back of your mind. Just allow the Holy Spirit to do the highlighting for you! The only wrong way to read the bible is to never open it. Open it with me for just 4 minutes each day. Set an alarm on your phone. You will not regret doing this. However, you just may regret not doing it.
Join me again next week! We will look at one of my favorite tools, as we study where the action is!
Jane is also teaching this series through video on her YouTube channel. Find her HERE!
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