7 Factors That Made Christianity Supremely Progressive
Sometimes today when people don’t like the meaning of a particular word, they simply adopt the definition that matches their personal preferences and most up-to-date feelings.
Unfortunately, even the immutable definitions of “masculine” and “feminine” are beset by revisionists bent on disrupting the intrinsic distinctions between the sexes.
Likewise, confusion arises when self-styled “progressive Christians” endorse abortion and homosexual behavior, as if these sinful practices are suddenly pleasing to God and in accordance with Christianity. In reality, Christianity was completely holy and progressive from the moment God launched it.
“When the time was fully ripe, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law…” (Galatians 4:4).
The following 7 factors made Christianity supremely progressive in the first century:
- The Arrival of the Messiah. Archaeologist WF Albright estimated that the population of Bethlehem was around 300 people when Jesus was born. So how did the prophet Micah identify the exact birthplace of the Messiah about 700 years before the miraculous birth of Christ? (Micah 5:2) God directed events supernaturally to fulfill Messianic prophecies in the person of Jesus Christ and to grant His people eternal deliverance from sin and death. Christianity is an evidence-based faith that God has rooted in specific historical events. (See my 2013 CP opinion piece titled “The Mathematical Proof of Christianity Is Irrefutable.”)
- The Life of the Messiah. If Jesus had sinned even once, He would not have been qualified to be anyone’s Savior. The adversaries of the Lord constantly searched for sin in his life, but always turned out to be empty. Because of their hatred for Jesus, they often resorted to lying about the Messiah and ultimately conspired to kill an innocent man.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).
“You know he appeared to take away our sins. And there is no sin in him” (1 John 3:5).
- The Ministry of Messiah. Jesus often served the outcasts of society, while always treating men and women with equal dignity. Despite his many miracles, religious leaders have completely rejected the progressive ministry of Christ. The Jews mistakenly assumed that their Messiah would be an earthly ruler. Instead, Christ came to reign in the hearts of those who would receive him as Lord and Saviour. Jesus said,
“The kingdom of God is within you” (John 17:21).
Questioned by Pilate, Jesus said:
“My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
The Lord’s own followers sometimes even struggled to fully understand various aspects of His ministry. (Mark 6:51,52; John 16:16-19)
- The Message of the Messiah. Jesus Christ announced:
“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
And Jesus said to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Most religious leaders rejected the progressive message of the gospel. They refused to make the necessary transition from the old covenant to the new covenant.
“Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).
The emphasis on eternal life in heaven was one of the more progressive aspects of Messiah’s message.
- The Death of the Messiah. The crucifixion of the Messiah seemed at first like a terrible defeat. Even Christ’s own followers could not understand their Lord’s crucifixion until after Christ’s resurrection from the dead. After all, why would the Messiah allow himself to be treated with such vicious brutality and appalling indignity? Isaiah prophesied over 700 years earlier that the Messiah would humbly redeem his people and suffer relentless agony in the process.
“He was oppressed and afflicted, but he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep before his shearers is silent, so he has not opened his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
- The Resurrection of the Messiah. When Christ came out of the tomb and appeared to his disciples, they could hardly believe it! (John 20:1-31) After being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the apostles began to teach and proclaim to the people that Jesus had risen from the dead (Acts 4:2). The preaching of Christ’s resurrection, however, was far too progressive for those who “disbelieved” (Acts 28:24). Nevertheless, Peter and John boldly declared:
We cannot help talking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
- The Promise of the Messiah. Jesus said to his disciples:
“In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I’m going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me, that you may also be where I am” (John 16:2-3).
There’s nothing more progressive than promising to take your followers to a place of eternal perfection! It is the same promise that Jesus gave to the thief on the cross who placed his faith in Christ. Jesus said,
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Christianity has not changed in the least since the Messiah ushered in the kingdom of God in the first century.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
If you have not yet received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, (John 1:12), I hope you will today.
The following prayer is a simple expression of the Christian faith:
“Dear Jesus, I repent of my sins and believe that you died on the cross to pay for my sins. Wash me, Jesus, with your precious blood. And fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit to t love and follow you for the rest of my life. Amen.”
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.