A Perfect Balance of the Cross and the Resurrection
The gospel message has a powerful positive appeal to it, of the real hope of a life-transforming change for people, whether it is spoken by John the Baptist at the Jordan river, by Jesus to the woman at the well (Jn. 4:5-45), by Peter to the multitudes at Pentecost, or by Paul to the Jews and Gentiles in Antioch Pisidia.
This preaching of the gospel message comes within a confident, bold, selfless, truth-piercing delivery of genuine conviction out of Holy Spirit inspired purity of heart.
This is one of the invaluable pay-offs for the Christian disciple picking up their cross and patiently following Jesus through an adventure of faith. The ability to someday share our testimony with natural simplicity, with the power of honest conviction, with the freedom of complete unawareness of self in fearless love, and with complete mastery over the opposing spirit of unbelief, to family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, is an outcome of the cross and the resurrection in our lives that is of incalculable worth.
Paul preached the cross in Antioch Pisidia. This is still the central, key issue of our present-day Christian experience.
How do we define the person of Jesus Christ, and what do we expect in our relationship with Him? Are we looking for a similarly unconventional, God-composed experience like that of Abraham? Are we willing to risk everything like Joseph to discover for ourselves that God is trustworthy and true, and to be used mightily for others? Can God call us like Moses to go to Egypt, so to speak, in our modern world context to share our Christian testimony to deliver the captives from the bondage of sin?
Can we follow God to the banks of the Red Sea, patiently looking to God in faith and trust to manufacture a miraculous deliverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenge? Can we relate to Paul, who said that the world was crucified unto him, and he unto the world (Gal. 6:14)? Is our personal relationship with Jesus Christ the most important thing in our lives? Or are we looking merely for a messiah who will temporarily repair our outward world only, while at the same time allowing us to remain as sovereign kings atop the thrones of our lives?
The totally unexpected separation in the first century of the coming of the messiah as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6-7, Genesis 3:15, and Jeremiah 33:15-16, for example, into two distinct advents accomplishing two entirely different tasks, was and is one of the great issues of the first-century ministry of Jesus Christ.
This separation exposed and divided out of the body of believers those Jews who were merely going through the mechanical, perfunctory motions of synagogue worship. It inaugurated the living new covenant relationship with God that made the journey-of-faith experiences of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, and Elijah available and commonplace for every new covenant Christian, Jew and Gentile alike. And it created the church age that has continued down twenty centuries to our present time.
This unexpected and unanticipated split into two messianic advents had enormous ramifications for the human race. It perpetuated the intense hatred of the Jews toward the occupying Romans, eventually resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the scattering of the Jews around the world for 1,900 years. The first advent of Jesus Christ as Savior kept in play the adventure of faith for countless people for another 2,000 years, and produced the colorful history of the church age through the dark and middle ages, through the Reformation, and through the incredible and remarkable past four centuries of recent history.
The gospel message of the cross preached by Paul in Antioch Pisidia, leading to a biblical-quality adventure of faith, is staring us in the face today as much as ever. This timely truth is right there in front of us…so close we can reach out and grab it for ourselves. The best and finest life is the uniquely unconventional life of faith that God has composed and would orchestrate for us, to match the pattern and template recorded in the Bible, however and wherever that takes us.
We have all the evidence we need to step out in faith, place our trust in Jesus Christ, and begin our journey toward whatever lies ahead in the upcoming last-days.