“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” (Eph. 4:1)
From The High Standards of God for End-Times Christians
The people of faith in the Bible rise to the occasion of becoming capable of an intimate and fulfilling relationship with God amidst their God-composed life-scripts, without falling into the destructive self-worship of their own abilities and talents, because the adventure of faith invented by God contains the element of seemingly insurmountable adversity which separates us from self-sovereignty. This accurately describes the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and the essence of the cross.
The characters of faith in the Bible cannot reach their destinations through worldly conventional scenarios. It is the uniquely supernatural elements of the cross applied to the events in our lives that produces the God-desired outcome of gifted and talented people that God can have meaningful fellowship with, who also independently understand and appreciate the issues behind freely choosing righteousness and self-sacrificing love, instead of self-centered, self-worship.
This is the narrow-gate aspect of the cross of Jesus Christ that is inaccessible and incomprehensible to the world. Fulfilling our calling like Joseph, David, and Paul is not accomplished by going around God in a self-autonomous, worldly conventional effort. Nothing supernatural happens using this approach. Fulfilling our unique callings and actualizing God’s intended character growth for each one of us, no matter what our particular gifts, talents, and circumstances, is accomplished by going directly through God. It is the supernatural participation of God in the circumstances and events of our lives, above and beyond conventional wisdom, that adds the purpose, meaning, and richness to a walk of faith with Jesus Christ.
A biblical quality journey of faith removes the element of pride because it is God’s plan, not ours. There is no room for knee-jerk pushback, stubborn resistance to change, or the prideful protection of our established turf of doing things our way, when we surrender our leadership position to God as commander of the expedition. When our plans are entirely displaced by God-composed life-scripts, we follow God’s leadership in faith and trust that leaves no room for pride-filled self-adulation.
As previewed in the God-composed life-scripts of the people of faith in the Bible, the end-times Christian church needs to become last, like Paul, within the seemingly impossible context of the tribulation events (Matthew 24:9-14; John 16:33) to be able to experience and exhibit the divine character traits of humility, love, forbearance, and forgiveness. At the beginning of the end-times tribulation, the Christian church does not need escape. At the beginning of the tribulation the church needs the supernatural infusion of God in our lives that will produce the biblical quality of faith that can say along with Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).
Paul’s statement in this obscure and seldom taught 1 Corinthians 4:9 verse about his thinking that God has set forth himself and his colleagues the apostles as last, is actually one of the most powerful and instructive statements in all of the Bible. Paul is most effective in his outreach of the transforming power of the gospel message that can change a person from a life of sin and darkness into a new creature “in Christ” full of spiritual light and love, when Paul himself is least worldly-esteemed as an earthen clay pot emptied of the self-adoration of his own gifts and talents. Paul is operating at his highest and best use for service in the kingdom of God, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, when God has set him forth in the eyes of the world as last. This is one of the keys to understanding our spiritual condition in the last-days when Christian will be hated of all nations (Matthew 24:9) and when the Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-29).