As modern-day Christians, we cannot discover the eternally valid lesson of the faithfulness of God…without stepping out into the risk of an adventure of faith following God wherever He leads.
The supernatural power of God for character transformation and Christian service comes with the prerequisite of divine love and genuine humility, purchased through a God-composed and guided measure of hardship within our journey of faith. This is one element that sets the godly biblical life uniquely apart. As Christians, we are at our finest and best when our characters exhibit the divine quality of self-effacing, vaunteth-not-itself, servant-like humility exemplified in biblical characters like Joseph, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, and of course Jesus Christ.
This is the creative dilemma and challenge for God. How does God manufacture a person like Joseph, with the capacity to rule Egypt as governor, yet with the independent virtue to reject through his own free-will choice, the destructive pride of an Absalom corrupted by self-centered, self-adoration?
How does God create a person having the innate abilities of a Joseph, who can learn through carefully guided yet difficult experience, to emulate the near-divine, high level of character to be able to forgive out of his own free-will choice the earlier trespasses of his brothers, through unselfish and bitterness-free grace?
How does God create people close enough in quality to Himself in order to be able to enjoy a meaningful relationship with, like an Abraham, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, and Daniel, yet with the character judgment to be able to reject the enticing temptation of Lucifer “ye shall be as gods?”
How does God create a person like Paul, having the innate high intelligence and superb people-skills to fulfill the enormously difficult calling to evangelize the first-century Mediterranean world, yet possessing the humility to recognize, understand, and accept the loving intention of God wrapped up in the concept of “For I think that God hath set forth us, the apostles, last” (1 Cor. 4:9).
The uniquely brilliant way that God has overcome this creative dilemma is to invent a vehicle called an adventure of faith involving the supernatural participation of God in the events and circumstances of our lives, centered around the timeless demonstration of perfect, unselfish love featured in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This is how God can supernaturally manufacture godly people who can make the character leap to becoming the father of faith, the governor of Egypt, a king of Israel, a missionary evangelist in the first century, or even the Son of God Himself flawlessly demonstrating these characteristics as the Passover Lamb of God Savior for the entire world, without developing an inflated ego and a swelled head.
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 (Mt. 24:9-14; Jn. 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…in my opinion…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 Christians will be hated of all nations (Mt. 24:9) and when the Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-29).