“That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7)
From The Christian Life in the Danger Zone
One definition of a pioneer is someone who gets shot in the back with arrows. The message of the cross is certainly not new, but for many people this blog is too radical and over-the-top compared to what we hear every Sunday in church. I would counter by saying that radically extreme Christianity produces the most balanced, healthy, and sane lives when lived in harmony with the highest levels of the natural moral law contained within a God-composed journey of faith.
The four gospels, the books of Acts, the letters to the churches, and the book of Revelation, is Christianity. The words of the New Testament define Christian principles and practices. It is certainly understandable that as the gospel message in the first century went out from Jerusalem to the pagan, polytheistic, idol-worshipping cultures of the Greco-Roman world, that the purity of the message would become diluted, garbled, and challenged through this enormously complex synthesis between the higher ways of God and the worldly mindset of established conventional normalcy.
But the universally central, social and cultural question that has been debated now for twenty centuries still remains…is a fully committed discipleship to Jesus Christ the highest possible route to fulfillment, meaning, and genuine “normalcy” in this life, or is following Jesus Christ as a true disciple irrational folly as radically skeptical unbelief would say?
Romans chapter 16 gives us a window into the close personal friendships that Paul was able to form over his career as a missionary evangelist, which I think could also have been similar closing chapters to each of the other epistles to the various churches founded by Paul with the help and companionship of Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy. If we could personally meet and talk with Abraham, Moses, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Peter, John, Philip, James, and Paul to name only a few, we would probably discover each of them to be among the most interesting, engaging, and balanced personalities in history.
Jesus said in John 14:12…”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.” The reality of this statement seems unachievable according to the limits of horizontally conventional thinking. But in a God-composed adventure of faith, angels are sent to open prison doors in the middle of the night (Acts 5:19; 12:7), we can be relocated in a moment of time (Acts 8:39-40), and God can use us to raise the dead (Acts 9:39-41). If anything, within the current context of our limited and constrained Christian expression of the miraculous, the message of this book is understated in its call to committed discipleship in relation to the “latter rain” works of the early first-century church (Acts 2:15-21).
There are some things even God cannot do. God cannot make square circles. God cannot make two plus two equal five. God cannot make married bachelors. In a world with people having free-will choice to follow God or to push Him aside and follow our own way, God cannot overcome willful unbelief and our determination to place faith in ourselves alone.
To create an environment where people willingly follow God through a walk of faith that matures into a personal relationship, the opposite option of going our own way must be open and fully in play. The delicate balance between belief and unbelief in our complex world is a spiritual engineering feat of incredible skill requiring the clearest proactive foresight and the most brilliant advance planning. This has enormous relevance in understanding the upcoming issues to be explored and examined in the end-times. This is one of the subjects of the next blog.