Using tables to contrast God’s way and man’s way — Insight #3

by this name tableThis series gives an inside view on the structure of By This Name and how it breaks through confusion in our diverse society, bringing clarity to the message of the gospel.

Thumbing through a copy of By This Name, you might notice a number of tables placed throughout the text. While they look very simple in structure, their function is quite valuable when it comes to helping a reader shift their worldview to a biblical one.

In today’s world where truth is relative and the differences between the biblical worldview and other belief systems are very badly blurred, By This Name draws sharp distinctions between what the Bible teaches—and what it does not. While this is done in the text, the comparison tables strengthen what is communicated in the text by acting like quick visual summaries.

Here’s how they work as the reader moves through the book.

Example 1: Creator-Creation Distinction

p44-bible-pantheism

On page 44, there is a table that clarifies the Creator-creation distinction. At a glance the reader can see that Yahweh—the God of the Bible—is distinct from the world he made. Yahweh, the Creator, is not part of his creation. This point is critical as there are many who think of God not as a person, but as a universal force that permeates all of nature.

On page 52, the reader comes across another table emphasizing the Creator-creation distinction:

p52-roles-category-names

Not only is the Creator God set apart from his creation, the reader also sees that humans are in a category of their own, distinct from the animals in the world and from spirit beings. Man is not an animal, nor is man somehow associated with angels.

This may seem like a redundant emphasis to some, but even in Genesis 3, Satan tries to blur the line between man and God by promising Eve that if she ate of the fruit, “you will be like God.” It is not uncommon even today for some to view God as some sort of superman, not understanding that God is absolutely unique, one-of-a-kind. Others have the idea that when people die, they become angels or stars in the night sky. This chart helps to make the distinction between the Creator and his creation clear.

Example 2: Man’s Way versus God’s Way

Another use of tables is in contrasting God’s way of making man acceptable to him with man’s seemingly infinite variety of ideas of how to become acceptable to God.

For example, on page 95 we see the following table contrasting Cain and Abel. Cain independently decided how he would make himself acceptable to God while Abel depended on God’s way. The table also lists God’s response to each man.

p95-cain-abel

As the biblical narrative unfolds in the book, we see this table expand to include what Jesus did (page 312):

p312-cain-abel-jesus

The table allows the reader to quickly make the connection between what happened in the Old Testament to what Jesus did on the cross. Both Abel and Jesus trusted God and responded in the way planned by God. It highlights that Abel’s way foreshadows what Jesus did on the cross.

Example 3: Religious Effort versus Trust in Yahweh

Here’s another example: On page 115, the actions of the people at Babel are contrasted with Noah’s trust in God. Using a table to highlight the differences allows the reader to build an understanding that trusting in Yahweh results in a person being considered righteous by God, while following man’s ideas results in rejection.

p115-babel-noah.jpg

Again, this table is expanded (on page 314) as By This Name explains more about the Bible.

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Example 4: Trusting in one’s own goodness versus Trusting in God’s goodness

The last example (from page 268) contrasts the way of the proud Pharisee who trusted in his own goodness, with the way of the humble tax collector who trusted in God’s goodness: two different approaches with two very different responses from God.

Pharisee vs Tax Collector

Besides highlighting the differences, all these tables serve as visual aids to show that a person cannot hold onto both these contrasting ideas simultaneously.

Throughout the course of the book, these two worldviews are objectively compared and the blurred lines between them sharpen progressively.

At the end, God’s way is clearly defined and contrasted with man’s ideas. Any initial haziness in the mind of the reader is removed so that both worldviews—biblical and non-biblical—are brought into sharp focus. The reader is then left to decide which of these worldviews is correct. If the reader comes to believe that the biblical worldview is correct, then he or she can confidently trust in Jesus for salvation.

By This Name Insight Series

#1: Why use the name Yahweh?
#2: Why focus on Egyptian religion?
#3: Using tables to contrast God’s way and man’s way
#4: Why talk about other “gods”?
#5: How to identify the Promised Deliverer?
#6: Why deal with syncretism when sharing the gospel?
#7: Why talk about prophecy when sharing the gospel?
#8: Why use the concept of a global classroom?

Author: David Cross

Curriculum development manager and staff writer at GoodSeed's International Office.