The Pioneering Spirit of the First Century Church
The Lord is real to us only as we place our faith in Him. The Christian life is a faith life. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The Bible says that “we must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
We need to recapture what could be termed the “pioneering spirit” that springs forth from the faith life. As we follow the history of the people of God, we find them being led by Moses toward the Promised Land. After the wilderness wanderings and the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan and into Canaan. Battles were fought and victories were won, but the task was not complete. The children of God were to drive out the enemy, but this is something that they did not do.
In the second chapter of the book of Judges, God tells us that after the death of Joshua, there rose up a generation which did not know the Lord or the mighty works which God had done. Again and again, the Bible says that the children of Israel did not drive out the enemy. In Judges 1:21 we read, “Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites.” Verse twenty-seven of the same chapter says, “Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean.”
Verse twenty-nine says, “Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer.” Verse thirty says, “Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron.” Verse thirty-one says, “Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho.” Verse thirty-three says, “Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh.”
The faith required to trust God for the complete victory is also the faith that would have made God real to His people. Their refusal to trust God for the victory and their choice to live without faith brought them to the place where God says of their generation, they “knew not the Lord” (Judges 2:10).
Men with a pioneering spirit came before them, but their generation was willing to simply rest on those who had gone before. Though this rest was enjoyable and their complacency less of a burden, the absence of faith caused them to lose touch with God. They went by the same name as their forefathers, they lived in the same land as their forefathers, but they did not know firsthand the God of their forefathers.
There have been pioneers who had that “pioneering spirit.” They were committed to follow Christ, just as surely as Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker was God. The pioneers did not know the end of their earthly endeavor. They had enough light only to take the next step of faith. As they trusted God to meet their needs, their needs seemed insurmountable, but God came through; for without God, it would have been impossible.
They could do more than talk about their impossibility; they felt the impossibility. They faced the impossibility. They dealt with the impossibility and cast themselves entirely on the mercy of God. Not only did the Lord provide, He became real to them as they trusted Him to meet their need.