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7 factors that made Christianity supremely progressive

empty tomb Easter
Unsplash/Pisit Heng

Sometimes today when people don't like the meaning of a particular word, they simply adopt whatever definition falls in line with their personal preferences and most recent feelings.

Sadly, even the immutable definitions of “male” and “female" are being assailed by revisionists intent on disrupting intrinsic gender distinctions.

Likewise, confusion occurs when self-proclaimed “progressive Christians” endorse abortion and homosexual behavior, as if these sinful practices are somehow suddenly pleasing to God and consistent with Christianity. In reality, Christianity was altogether holy and progressive from the moment God launched it.

“When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under Law, to redeem those under Law...” (Galatians 4:4).

The following 7 factors made Christianity supremely progressive in the first century:

  1. The Arrival of the Messiah. Archeologist W.F. Albright estimated the population of Bethlehem to have been about 300 when Jesus was born. So how did the prophet Micah pinpoint the exact birthplace of the Messiah roughly 700 years before Christ's miraculous birth took place? (Micah 5:2) God supernaturally directed events in order to fulfill the 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 rooted in specific historical events. (See my 2013 CP op-ed titled, “The Mathematical Proof for Christianity Is Irrefutable.”)
  2. The Life of the Messiah. If Jesus had sinned even one time, he would not have qualified to be anyone’s Savior. The Lord's opponents constantly searched for some sin in his life, but always came up empty. As a result of their hatred for Jesus, they often resorted to lying about the Messiah and eventually conspired to kill an innocent man. 

    “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

     “You know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). 

  3. The Ministry of the Messiah. Jesus often ministered to the outcasts of society, while always treating men and women with equal dignity. In spite of his many miracles, the religious leaders completely rejected Christ’s progressive ministry. The Jews wrongly assumed their Messiah would be an earthly ruler. Instead, Christ came to rule in the hearts of those who would receive him as Lord and Savior. Jesus said, 

    “The kingdom of God is within you” (John 17:21).

     When questioned by Pilate, Jesus said, 

    “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

    The Lord's own disciples even struggled at times to fully understand various aspects of his ministry. (Mark 6:51,52; John 16:16-19) 
  4. The Message of the Messiah. Jesus Christ announced: 

    “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

    And Jesus told a Pharisee named Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Most of the 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).

     A major emphasis on eternal life in Heaven was one of the most progressive aspects of the Messiah’s message.
  5. The Death of the Messiah. The Messiah’s crucifixion seemed at first like a terrible defeat. Even Christ’s own disciples couldn’t wrap their minds around 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 unrelenting agony in the process. 

    “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

  6. The Resurrection of the Messiah. When Christ rose from the grave 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 teaching and proclaiming to people that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Acts 4:2). The preaching of Christ’s resurrection, however, was far too progressive for those who “refused to believe” (Acts 28:24). Nevertheless, Peter and John boldly declared: “

    We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). 

  7. The Promise of the Messiah. Jesus told his disciples: 

    “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 16:2-3).

    You don’t get more progressive than promising to bring your followers to a place of eternal perfection! It is the same promise Jesus gave 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 slightest since the Messiah ushered in the kingdom of God in the first century. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

If you have not yet received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, (John 1:12) I hope you will do so today.

The following prayer is a simple expression of Christian faith: 

“Dear Jesus, I repent of my sins and I believe 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 love you and follow you for the rest of my life. Amen."

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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