“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:24)
From The High Standards of God for End-Times Christians
Christian philosophy and apologetics has rightly clarified a key distinction about faith in the existence of God. Real faith in God does not exist in a world in which the existence of God is an absolute observable fact like the existence of the noonday sun, or an undisputable truth like two plus two equals four. Over the previous six thousand or more years of human redemptive history, God has skillfully maintained a delicate balance between the evidence for His existence and the ability of humans to exercise unbelief. This keeps in play the critical element of free-will choice, which adds value and meaning to our choice to trust and follow God in faith, in this broken world.
The key point that many Jews in the first century blindly missed in evaluating Jesus of Nazareth as a candidate for messiah, is that Jesus ruling and reigning on earth in the fullest sense, starting sometime around 30 to 33 A.D., brings to an abrupt end the exercise of free-will choice and the experience of a journey of faith. They missed this key point because they themselves had not experienced a personal journey of faith with God in their own lives (John 7:17). God’s ability to compose and orchestrate brilliantly original life-scripts to reveal Himself to people who choose to follow Him through the medium of an adventure of faith, ends abruptly in this current broken world environment when Jesus permanently assumes His place on the throne as King and Savior according to the second advent half of the messianic prophecies.
Gideon’s experience of an Old Testament challenge of faith, recorded in the book of Judges, would have had no further context to play itself out in Christ’s glorious reign…there will be no Midianites or anyone else attacking the New Jerusalem then or forever after. The type of brilliantly creative journey of faith of Joseph’s rise in Egypt, recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis, would have no further context to actualize in Christ’s glorious rule and reign upon earth…there will be no more famines in Egypt or anywhere else from that time onward. If the messianic prophecies of the first and second advent of Jesus Christ are fully combined in the first century, the powerful conversion and subsequent ministry of Paul has no continuing context…no one, including Paul, would mistakenly be persecuting the early church during Christ’s rule and reign in the first century.
The fulfillment of the second-advent portions of the messianic prophecies regarding Jesus Christ, and all that they entail, would have been totally premature in the first century. The human race was not ready for the fulfillment of these final messianic prophecies. Many of the chosen people of God…the Jews in the first century…did not at that time understand the concepts of grace, a journey of faith, or the Old Testament verse that “the just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4) that Paul clarified in his New Testament writings and that Martin Luther rediscovered at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Even to this day, contemporary Christianity has still not fully recovered an understanding and worldly-free application of the second half of the cross in the lives of individual born-again Christians, which was partially lost during the dark and middle ages of history.
Jesus said that He had more lost sheep, not of this first century fold, to seek and to save (John 10:16). This meant that God had many more individualized, unconventional life-scripts to compose and orchestrate as only God can do, to personally reveal Himself to the people of faith to come into existence during the centuries of the church age. Christianity moves out from the purity of doctrine and practice in Judea into the paganism and classical philosophy of the Greco-Roman world, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., so that mankind can work through the eternally important issues of truth for the next 1900 years or more. This all-important task is still ongoing.