I continue my quest to find out what made the Jewish leaders SO angry at Jesus, Paul and Stephen. I am convinced it has everything to do with the gospel.
I seek to know why Paul was SO persecuted just for preaching the gospel (isn’t the gospel good?). I want to know why SO many Christians get SO angry these days over the LGBT issues. Why would Apostle Paul be so willing to be imprisoned, beaten near death and scorned as a shameful heretic by religious people?
I begin this segment of my quest by sharing some thoughts that used to perplex me greatly. These verses in the Bible used to cause me such grief and anxiety. They spurred me on to a fearful “race of faith” in which I felt like I was exhausted and going to collapse at any minute, like a marathon runner who can barely make it the first mile.
2 Corinthians 3:10 “For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.”
2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 9:14 “And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.”
Surpassingly great revelations?
2 Corinthians 12:7 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”
How could that be?
I used to articulate the gospel in this way: “Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead.” But I was SO very confused as to how this could result in surpassing glory, power, grace, revelation or greatness. Here was my thought process: Yea, sure, it’s good news that Jesus died for my sins. And it’s cool that Jesus rose from the dead. Great. I have some hope for the after-life… well, maybe, if I keep up my obedience and conformance, perhaps God will accept me on judgment day. But why did Jesus and Apostle Paul talk so much about this life? I suspect I’ll be joyful in heaven, but what about now? I am working so hard for Jesus, for my family and for my church, but I’m so miserable inside! I have no power to resist sinful desires. I need to keep busy so that I don’t have time to sin.
What I didn’t realize then is that I did not know the answer to this question: “What is the gospel?”