This month we focus on what is typically the hardest Work of Mercy for Christians to understand and thus put into practice: Ransoming the Captive. We begin with Pastor Foley’s Heuristic Helper for the month:
If something is hard for Christians to understand it is usually because: (1) we haven’t studied the fullness of Scripture on the subject; (2) we did study the fullness of Scripture on the subject but still felt something was missing, so we took it on ourselves to fill in the blank; and/or (3) Scripture seemed to be telling us to do something so contrary to good common sense that we assumed God would of course never ask us to do such a thing, and so we walked away shaking our heads and muttering. (I like to call this The Rich Young Ruler Syndrome.)
All three confusion causers are operative with regard to the subject of ransoming the captive. As we’ll see this month, folks teaching on this subject often:
- miss some of Scripture’s most crucial verses about ransoming and captives;
- are tempted to speak where the Scripture is (purposefully) silent on the subject;
- overlook the fascinating stories in church history of Christians who put this Work of Mercy into practice at the cost of their lives, finances, and reputations.
The one thing that’s for sure is that it’s going to take a good month of posting to identify and then work through the misunderstandings on this subject. The payoff is, of course, that once we have a solidly Scriptural grounding in the matter we’ll be confronted with the kind of call to life-disrupting practice that will leave us longing for the days of gentle confusion where we could just shrug our shoulders sheepishly and not let the whole thing bother us too much. After all, there is one thing harder than not knowing what God wants from us; namely, knowing what God wants from us.
But, profoundly convinced of the boundless grace of God, let us be wise men rushing in where fools fear to tread as together this month we tackle the subject of Ransoming the Captive.