I have received a sufficiently large number of requests to warrant putting my personal answer out as a following number of the Wayside Pulpit. I may do it in two parts. Certainly what I have to say in this article will not be along the expected lines. It is abundantly clear that my wife and I believe strongly in God’s Total Victory. We have advertised that fact on numerous occasions, together with many and varied reasons, stemming from a flash revelation back in April 1969, when the Lord showed me His plan for mankind in a most dramatic way, even though it was not on my mind at the time.
Since writing the last paper, I have read through the Book of Acts once again, and the following impression was foremost in my mind as a result. I could not help but see that God was opening wide the floodgates of His mercy to the Gentiles, but that the Jews attacked the proposition vigorously, and with vitriolic hatred towards the Apostles from the word go. During the previous 4000 years, God had been taking out a “people for His name”, first of all from mankind as a whole, and then from the House of Israel, coupled with a few proselytes. This was for the express purpose of demonstrating to the rest of mankind what their Creator God was like, that they may turn to Him and love Him. According to James and Peter at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, God was now breaking down the “middle wall”, the national barrier, and seeking a remnant from peoples of all nations, and this would continue until “the times of the Gentiles” were fulfilled, until God had selected, called, chosen, and trained His disciples to the full number of His requirements. After that, a whole new regime was forecast, to be known as the Kingdom of God.
Why did the Jews react so violently? Was it not because they classed themselves as God’s special people, His only people? Didn’t the Jews refer to the Gentiles, the Goyim, as “dogs”? Were they not distressed beyond measure to hear some of their own people speak of a widening of God’s favour? As a result they could hardly restrain themselves from anger, violence, and hot-headed anti-social behaviour. Saul of Tarsus was perhaps the supreme example before his conversion.
But after the passage of many years, and the dispersion of the Jewish people after A.D. 70, the Gentile remnant began to flourish without Jewish persecution. And after many more centuries the world now contains a predominantly Gentile church. Many thoughtful people in the churches of the world believe that the time has nearly run out, and that the Kingdom of God is just round the corner, that the “times of the Gentiles” have nearly been fulfilled.
What has God in store for the days of the Kingdom? Putting it another way, what was His purpose in taking out of the nations of the world “a people for His name” throughout 6000 years of human history? Is it not that the answer is becoming more and more plain these days, and that many more people are beginning to see the Scriptural evidence of an even greater expansion of God’s grace? In our spirits are we not being prepared for an event which parallels the first days of Christianity? And sadly, are we not seeing a resurgence of the same anger, violence, and hatred that possessed the minds of the Jews 2000 years ago, whenever that broadening, that expansion, is mentioned? Is it not true that the church, by and large, looks upon itself as God’s special people, and that all the rest will end up in hell-fire?
But the truth of the matter is that God’s remnant has been called and chosen, not for its own sake, but as a future ambassador of righteousness, to be sent forth to turn the nations to righteousness, to help the peoples of the world learn who God is, what He is like, and that He is now beginning to call ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to Himself. Far from sending them all to a never-ending hell-fire, God is anxious to enlighten them, that they may call upon Him for mercy and forgiveness, even as we have tasted that sweet fruit in days gone by.
It is my own personal opinion that this is at least PART of the answer to my question about the Moral Dilemma. It is based on a vision of self-opinionated righteousness and presumed favouritism amongst Christians, acting as strongly as the pharisaic attitude of 1st century Jews. Human nature has not changed, even if times have changed. If what I say is true, then the process of bringing in the Kingdom will prove to be as difficult as it was for the 1st century apostles, and the problems will NOT arise from the world at large, but from within the church itself.
But God will have His way, even as He by-passed the nation of Israel, and chose Saul of Tarsus to perform His will, one man instead of a nation. Perhaps now He will choose the least expected from amongst the church to break down the gates of bronze, and cause the floodwaters of God’s mercy to flow out and meet the needs of untold millions of needy souls.
I think I have another angle to present, but will reserve it for the next number.
From Arthur and Rosalind Eedle, Lincolnshire, England.