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A Revolutionary Message - The Book of Revelation
Week 50, 2018
Why did The Lord send Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles? Doesn’t it seem that He got this mixed up? Having been a disciple of the great teacher Gamaliel, Paul would have been much more respected and better received by the Jews than Peter, a simple fisherman. On the other hand, Peter would have been much more acceptable to the Gentiles than Paul, a “Pharisee of Pharisees” as the Gentiles despised the Pharisees. Why would The Lord send each of them to those to whom they would be naturally offensive? Perhaps it was because it would be impossible for either to fulfill their purpose without The Holy Spirit.
There has been nothing as revolutionary in history as the Gospel. True Christianity is profoundly different than any other religion or philosophy on earth, and it produces a culture that is different than any other. This is why Christians in the early church stood out so dramatically. Today, it is hard to distinguish a Christian from anyone else in the culture, even in basic behavior and character issues. Something very significant has been lost.
A factor is likely how the Gospel was changed from how He came to save us from our sin to Him coming to save us from our troubles. Almost every message preached today is man-centered rather than God-centered. It is all about what He will do for us and very little about what is required of us. Maybe this is the result of how The Great Commission has been changed from making disciples to making converts. Now it is difficult to even find true disciples according to The Lord’s definition of what His disciples would be like.
Could this be because of the shallow way that people are born again? A study was done decades ago about the way a person was born possibly having a major impact on the trajectory of their life. When the birth procedure “drug them and tug them” was devised (drugging the mother and tugging the baby out so that there was little pain for the mother), the generation subjected to that birth procedure became the drug pursuing generation of the 1960s and 1970s. It was all about doing what made you feel good and avoiding pain.
Today, evangelism has often been reduced to preaching a message of shallow belief and all of the great things God will do for us, and asking people to just lift their hand to “give their life to Jesus” while everyone else has their head bowed in order to not embarrass them. Then we wonder why only about 5% of these converts are added to the church and go on to actually follow Jesus. In the first century, 100% of those who gave their lives to The Lord were added to the church, and from that moment on their faith was proven by persecution and the threat of execution.
Were the Christians of the first century so radically different from Christians today because they were so radically changed when they were “born again,” having been called to a radical commitment? This radical commitment was demonstrated in the lives of the apostles who preached to them—lives that had been so cast into total dependence on The Holy Spirit that they spiritually begat others who walked in such total obedience. As The Lord established in the beginning, each would reproduce “after their own kind.”
If we were born into The Lord by such a shallow message, and have existed in a shallow Christian culture, we might want to ask the question Nicodemus did of The Lord when discussing the proposition of being born again: “Can a man enter again into his mother’s womb?” or “Can we be born again, again?” The answer is “yes.” To be convicted again of our sin, or of our shallow devotion and obedience to The Lord, can bring about a repentance and an even more radical transformation to our lives than when we made the previous superficial commitment.
If we are truly disciples of The King of kings, then our life will be dominated above all things by a devotion to learn of Him, to do His will, to become like Him, and to do the works that He did.
As the popular saying goes, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Why not make it another new beginning, with a new resolve to no longer live for ourselves but for Him—to do all things for the sake of His Gospel, and to love not our own lives even to the death, so that we might truly live?
next week 51