“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Pet. 1:3)
One of the great life-secrets that is hidden in the biblical narrative stories of faith…yet is out there on the surface for all to see…confirms again from another angle the divine origin of the Bible.
This concept…uniformly displayed within every positive biblical character of faith…to a greater or lesser degree…is that once a person walking through their journey of faith following God…hits rock-bottom in terms of discouraging appearances, challenges, failures, or suffering (Jn. 12:24)…this creates a new platform for humility that can be beneficial for the remainder of their lives and their ministries.
For example, once Peter in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest…during the night trial of Jesus…discovers the bitter reality of utter failure in not being able to courageously stand alongside Jesus…in Peter’s own character strength without the assistance of Holy Ghost power…Peter from then-on never has to leave this low state of humility as a useful working platform for the rest of his ministry…as recorded in the book of Acts and articulated so brilliantly in his two New Testament letters.
This divinely crafted and engineered entrance into an attitude of humility that is unattainable through worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…serves as an ongoing life platform for godly service that has the helpful analogy popularly known and easily understood in Christianity…as an empty clay pot or jar “vessel”…that God can fill with His plans, His ways, His purposes, and His power for the blessing of all.
This is another subtle yet compelling argument for the divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith life-scripts…because this concept runs so diametrically opposite to worldly conventional thinking and norms…that could not, nor would not, compose by chance or by intention the ingeniously devised scenarios of life-events and circumstances…that would generate rock-bottom, genuine humility that is life-giving…life-renewing (Jn. 12:24-25)…rather than destructive.
The apostle Paul is another example in the New Testament that comes quickly to mind.
If the highly educated Pharisee Saul/Paul is to acquire the essential non-prejudicial attitude of humble acceptance toward the idol-worshipping, polytheistic Gentiles in the Greco-Roman world of the first-century…difficult for any Jew at that time raised from birth to avoid fellowship with the loathsome Gentiles…then Saul/Paul must go through the extraordinary shaking-up of his worldview and his self-confident pride when he meets Jesus as Messiah and Lord in that blinding light on his way to the city of Damascus.
Working from this uniquely novel platform of humility divinely engineered by God for practical usage as a missionary evangelist…Paul from then on does not have to worry about his culturally inherited attitude of looking down his nose in arrogant pride at these misguided Gentiles…understanding immediately he was misguided in a much worse way in persecuting the early church…and seeing how quickly the turnaround in his life through grace by faith in Christ…could also be theirs as well.
Another biblical example that clearly stands out in this regard…of people working from their God-created platform of super-humility…interwoven into the costs of their God-composed journeys of faith…would be Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only “son of promise” Isaac on Mount Moriah…after years of being schooled in patient waiting in the rock-bottom zone of God’s will…over and above our own will-and-way.
Certainly Joseph in Egypt hits rock-bottom in outward negative appearances in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s prison…yet at this great personal cost (picking up his cross to follow Jesus…for the sake of the future gospel) a character trait of super-humility in Joseph enabled him to interact with the Egyptians…as a foreigner in a foreign land…with skill, discretion, and wisdom that opened up for Joseph a winning strategy to become an effective servant/leader and thus successful as governor during the great famine.
The long years of waiting in the land of Midian as a shepherd for Moses…emptied him of his self-reliant pride as only a long period in exile could…and as he stood before God at the burning bush it can accurately be said that Moses was then an empty, clay jar “vessel” ready for a massive calling and a mission second to none…other than that of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The best example of operating from the platform of divine humility…an interesting blend of terms…is Jesus of Nazareth…who started from a lowly worldly position and never left it…dying naked and penniless on the cross of Calvary…yet giving away eternal salvation of priceless value to multitudes of believers through His limitless gift of LIFE from the cross and the resurrection…brilliantly exemplifying in the same moment of time the most thoroughly emptied vessel (Lk. 22:42) and the most invaluable ministry…from one Person through one God-crafted life-script.
This curious and uniquely biblical reality of hitting rock-bottom in our adventure of faith…through challenges, adversity, the outward appearances of failure, and suffering…to produce a workable platform of humility…is not an apologetic argument to be taken lightly or casually dismissed as being of secondary importance.
In David’s beautiful and powerful Psalm 23…he walks with God through the valley of the shadow of death…and comes out the other side having the hope and the courage to be king in Israel…in a geographical region at that time that had tumultuous and highly hostile neighboring countries in continual warfare with Israel.
When we likewise hit a similar God-generated rock-bottom in our own journey of faith (1 Pet. 4:12)…out the other side comes a useful platform…for us and for the benefit of others…of humility, hope, clarity of purpose, and direction that is unknown and unavailable through worldly conventional self-rulership and self-sovereignty…outside of the living God of the Bible.
Another way of describing this uniquely biblical experience is to simply say that when we lose control and management of our discipleship program…our hearts may be temporarily broken (Mt. 21:44)…but the entire through-line…the main point…of the biblical narrative stories of faith is the supernatural transition from self-sovereignty to a joint-venture of God-sovereignty plus our free-will choice to follow God’s lead.
One incalculably invaluable by-product of this process is the obtaining of a measure of divine humility wherein we can operate as servant/leaders of God…like the servant of Abraham searching out a wife for his master’s son Isaac (Gen. 24:1-28).
From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.