The most guarded and treasured possession to humans…our autonomous, self-directed will-and-way…the control over our lives…in a journey of faith is crucified alongside Jesus to create the space for God to insert a new life-script (Gal. 2:20).
The one and only life we possess is placed on the line in a journey of faith. Everything is at stake, in play, and at risk in a biblical-quality, God-scripted adventure of faith.
Jesus entreats us to lose our lives for His sake, and in doing so we will find our lives (Mt. 10:39).
Because of the magnitude of the last days, for end-times Christians this has to become more than mere words. Losing our lives for His sake within a God-composed adventure of faith must actualize in our lives.
Again, this can entail risks of enormous proportions and require decisions that are momentous in their long-range impact upon ourselves and others…keeping in mind the morally correct disclaimer in the last paragraph of the previous essay above.
God cannot let us off easy in this regard and still have our best interests at heart.
If Paul is to be able to write his powerful and insightful New Testament letters to the early churches…with the quality of divine inspiration…he must walk through all of his difficult, lesson-plan challenges.
This is something we sometimes partially miss in Christendom.
For Paul to be able to correctly write the inspired truth, his course must go straight through adversity, tribulation, and struggles that divide out the subtleties and nuances of the issues.
The “narrow way” of Matthew 7:13-14…always has a guided trajectory towards a premeditated goal.
Divinely guided trials proactively scripted through timeless foresight…not random-chance events inadequately resolved in the reactive mode…form the basis of the challenge of the Christian life in the danger zone of faith.
Even Paul’s Spirit-filled Christian friends and companions entreat him not to go up to Jerusalem for that last final visit for fear of personal injury (Acts 21:12). But Paul has to experience all of the chaotic turmoil of his evangelistic ministry for God to clarify for him the subtle nuances of the knowledge of good and evil.
If we do not have Paul’s fully informed and inspired New Testament letters to all Christians then and now, then we are all diminished greatly in our own journeys of faith.
Paul’s willingness to get out in front, to pay the price to discover “all truth” through God’s narrowly crafted way in an heroic adventure of faith is the hallmark of a person taking up their cross to lose their lives for the sake of Jesus and the gospel (Mk. 8:35).
An easy to identify Old Testament example of this basic truth can be found in the Psalms of David.
David cannot write in his world-famous 23rd Psalm about walking safely through the valley of the shadow of death…with God by his side for protection…unless David in fact and in truth had walked through several danger-filled valleys in real life…darkened by the shadows of death.
Jesus said in John 16:33…“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Tribulation separates us from autonomous self-sovereignty…of sitting atop the thrones of our hearts as unqualified and uninformed kings of the realm of our lives.
This concept of having “tribulation in the world” partially undermines and refutes two of the four or five current, major end-times interpretations of biblical prophecy.
Postmillennialism says that the transforming power of the last-days Christian church will…by the attractive virtue of its winning ways and message…usher in by positive incremental steps the era of the thousand year…”millennial”…reign of Christ on earth.
The pretribulation rapture interpretation says just the opposite…that the believing Christian church will be raptured off the earth before all of the challenging and horrifying action of the Great Tribulation begins.
Both of these biblical end-times prophetic interpretations do not appear to square with the universal, generally applicable biblical concept “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
“In the world ye shall have tribulation” is not consistent with an end-times world slowly and gradually being converted to an elevated level of godliness…consonant with the dawn of a new millennium of blissful peace, truth, and justice.
The challenges, trials-of-faith, and radically life-changing epiphanies of truth that result from “much tribulation”…as a result of a surgical separation from autonomous self-sovereignty through God-composed journeys of faith…is not consistent with a full removal of the Christian church pretribulation before “all the shooting starts.”