Thanks again for your response to my “chewing the cud”, as I seek to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, who is, as He said of Himself, the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him. Only God who came to us in the flesh in the person of Jesus the Nazarene, could make such a claim and be vindicated by God (in His being resurrected from among the dead in what you might call a ‘special resurrection or new creation’) as speaking the truth in such a serious and profound matter, which has challenged humankind throughout history.
While it is true that the Christian faith is only dated from the period of the writings of the New Testament, yet the faith of the Christian (one who believes in, follows, and belongs to the Messiah, who is established to be Jesus) embraces all of the promises of the one true living God, ever since He promised the good news to Adam and Eve that the Seed of the Woman would crush the head of the serpent and his seed (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 1:1-4; Rev. 14:6).
All mankind, to whom God has indeed revealed Himself and left Himself witnesses in every place (for examples, Abel and Job), will have had opportunity to place their faith in the Creator Himself, whether they know Him personally or not and as opposed to placing their trust in any of His created things or the works of their own hands or in their own devised philosophies, and to call on Him for salvation.
While these are difficult things for us to fully fathom, nonetheless YEHOVAH, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, to whom and through whom and their seed the full revelation of the God of Heaven has come and been propagated to all the families of the earth (and continues to be until the end of the age, again as Jesus assured), has revealed enough by which to bring all persons and nations to accountability before Him and by which the Judge of all the earth will judge righteously. The new covenant, sealed by the shed blood of the Son of God and which God promised beforehand through the prophet Jeremiah, does fulfill the covenant promises given to Abraham, as well as those given to Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Phineas, to Israel, to King David, even with the animals (Is 11:6-9; Hos 2:18). Indeed, all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus, to the glory of God. The new testament is indeed new and different than the old covenant given to Israel at Sinai, even while there is continuity as long as every jot and tittle of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings have yet to be fullfilled in actuality and not just as a matter of faith. Interestingly, Yehovah of Hosts promises respecting the people of Israel are anchored in the very fact of His being in full control over His own creation (Jer. 31:35-37; 33:25-26)!
James, I too wonder much as to how God brings all things to accomplish all His will, but by His grace I learned early on that He is more righteous than I ever made myself out to be; He loves each person and all peoples far more than I can ever pretend to or do anything; His promise of forgiveness of sins and resurrection to everlasting life (Dan.12:1-2) for all who have ever looked to Him and the One whom He promised would come for full deliverance and salvation (if they lived before Jesus came into the world) – and now He has come and died and lives forevermore! – meets the need of every generation so that living at a certain time or place makes no difference with God for carrying out His glad tidings. In other words, God knows how to conduct His business, and He is jealous for His holy name, and has staked His entire creation, which He intends to be filled with His glory, on fulfilling it, both in letter and in spirit. People will and do interpret and apply God’s word in all manner of ways, some out of love for Him as He has made Himslf known, others out of spite, some out of custom or religious tradition, and others ignorantly. The fear of YHVH is the beginning of knowledge, of understanding, and of wisdom. At the end of the day, God will be faithful to what He means by what He has chosen to make known to whomsoever at whatsoever times: He can not deny Himself! The person who spoke most about the truth of Heaven and that of hell was the only one who knew enough about it to do so, even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
I earnestly hope and look for the Lord Jesus to return quickly before another hundred years pass (Matt. 24:32-51). But whether He does or does not, I want to be ready to meet my Bridegroom when He comes back out of Heaven as He, who can not lie, has promised. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16-17)