Why I Don't Wan't to Be a First Century Christian

Hang on a second! Take a deep breath and lower your “disfellowhip
hammer.” I’m not saying that I want to get away from the Bible, follow my own
rules, or follow someone else’s ideas. However, I am saying that I’m perfectly
happy being a Christian in the twenty-first century as opposed to the first
century. Here’s some reasons why:

1. Persecution

The first century was a time of persecution that was greater
than any other persecution in history, and there will never be a persecution as
severe as the one dealt by Jewish and Roman leaders upon the first century
church.

Daniel prophesied, “And
at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the
children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was
since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people
shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book
” (Daniel
12:1; see Daniel 12:7ff).   

                  

Jesus said, “Take heed
to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues
ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake,
for a testimony against them
” (Mark 13:9).

Peter warned, “Beloved,
think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though
some strange thing happened unto you
” (I Peter 4:12).

John wrote, “I John,
who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and
patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word
of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ
” (Revelation 1:9).

[source]

Some of this persecution arose because of another reason I
don’t want to be a first century Christian.

2. Jew/ Gentile Competition

Gentiles being converted to Christ caused a great deal of
commotion in the first century church, but it also didn’t make things any
better between the Christians and the Jews. I’m glad that the mystery has been
finished so that I don’t have to deal with those same tensions (Revelation
10:7; Ephesians 3:3-6).

And certain men which
came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised
after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved
” (Acts 15:1).

In response to some issues at Rome, Paul says, “I say then, Hath God cast away his people?
God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of
Benjamin
” (Romans 11:1).

On both sides (Jew and Gentile) there was contention. The
Jews wanted the Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses (as some were still doing in
Jerusalem: Acts 21:20). The Gentiles, reacting to the pressure, felt that
Israel was cast out (which is what Paul is arguing against in Romans 9-11). In
Christ, however, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christ is all, and in
all.

And have put on the
new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created
him:  (11)  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew,
circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ
is all, and in all
” (Colossians 3:10-11; see Galatians 3:26-29).

In the period of transition from the Old Covenant to the New
Covenant, or “the fullness of times,” God reconciled all things to Himself,
thus making peace.

Having made known
unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath
purposed in himself:  (10)  That in the dispensation of the fulness of
times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in
heaven, and which are on earth; even in him
” (Ephesians 1:9-10; see Galatians
4:4, Mark 1:15, and John 4:21-24).

In order to guide the 1st century church through
this transition period, the Holy Spirit was sent as a “guarantee” that the ministry
of reconciliation would be accomplished (II Corinthians 5:16-21). This brings
me to my third reason why I don’t want to be a first century Christian.

3. Miraculous Gifts

Yes, I admit, it would be neat to be able to “prophesy, cast
our devils, and do many wonderful works,” but the presence of the Spirit meant
incompleteness; it meant imperfection; it meant that the revealing of the sons
of God had yet to take place! Therefore, I’m happy to be living in a time when
His work was completed and now we see “face to face.”

For we know in part,
and we prophesy in part.  (10)  But when that which is perfect is come, then
that which is in part shall be done away. 
(11)  When I was a child, I spake
as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a
man, I put away childish things. 
(12)  For now we see through a
glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know
even as also I am known
” (I Corinthians 13:9-12).

But we all, with open
face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same
image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord
” (II
Corinthians 3:18; note the context! There’s the “transition” that the Spirit
was accomplishing.).

Till we all come in
the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect
man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ
” (Ephesians
4:13).

While it may seem like a strange thing, Paul did teach that
the way we live now is “more excellent” (I Corinthians 12:31).
I’m happy to be a first century Christian when it comes to how to live, teach, and worship! But I’m
also happy to be able to do so in 2016!

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