Learned Values Worthy of Heaven 1

“…for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord…”                                                    (Jer. 31:34)

During the Big Bang creation of the universe dated 13.7- billion years ago…God created time and the three dimensions of space…length, width, and height…along with all of the material particles and energy in just the right quantities and proportions…that brought into existence an expanding universe that billions of years later was capable of supporting complex life like ourselves.

God created the fourth dimension of time for a definite and deliberate reason…one of the highest reasons imaginable.

In Isaiah 46:9-10 and 2 Peter 3:8…God tells us directly that His reality is a timeless reality.

Throughout the entire Bible, God indirectly infers that He lives in a timeless environment…evidenced by the precise and penetrating foresight God exhibits in crafting and guiding the life-scripts of the people of faith in the Bible…to successful conclusions.

The biblical narrative stories of faith…having end-point goals not fully known or entirely understood by its main participants at the outset of their callings…make sense only if they were written by a divine Author having premeditated foresight and timeless foreknowledge at His disposal…in other words a God outside of time writing exceptionally brilliant life-scripts for people locked into the course of unfolding events engineered through the steady and orderly medium of time.

The goals-targeted transcendence of the biblical narrative stories of faith…having God’s higher ways and thoughts experientially baked-into their storylines…and the timeless nature of prophetic predictions in the Bible…reveals that God intentionally and purposely works with time as an invaluable tool…to shape and channel the context of events played-out within intervals of time…to manufacture novel and innovative journeys of faith singularly unique to the Bible…that defines biblical faith as articulated in Hebrews 11:1, 11:6, and 11:12-16.

The key point here…regarding the element of time…is that throughout the Bible we do not see or detect the slightest hint of God exercising less-than-perfect faith…that contains some partial degree of doubt or uncertainty in the outcomes of His life-scripts and mission-plans composed for people…and for the world-at-large.

In the Bible…God is not in suspense in the reactive mode waiting to see how human free-will decisions and actions will play-out…contemplating in-the-moment His next trial-and-error, reactive move…in response to events on-the-ground.

In the biblical narrative stories of faith…of Abraham through Paul…the outcomes are not a product of serendipity…of random-chance…of good or bad luck…because the same quality of faith is not in operation on both sides of the equation.

            God and people are not both operating in the same mode of discovery…in the brave new world of unfolding, ever-growing, and improving faith. 

As discussed elsewhere in this book…God lives in a timeless environment…revisited here in this essay in more detail.

The God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts…for Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, Ruth, Esther, Hannah (including Noah) all the way through the New Testament to Paul…are totally pre-meditated on God’s part and do not entail doubtful, unsure “faith” in us…in the time-limited, to-be-determined sense that we normally experience…when the final positive outcomes of these journeys of faith…are in doubt in-the-present-moment.

Learned faith and trust in God within the context of this world is a brilliantly designed, created reality…for our benefit…using the four dimensions of space and time…to be able to discover the character and trustworthiness of the living God…to be able to parse and divide-out the one true worldview narrative amidst a sea of multiple competing narratives…to discover truth through experience.

I perceive this is somewhat of a revolutionary concept…in the divine blending…in the humanly inconceivable and seemingly irreconcilable mixing…of these two disparate dichotomies of the timeless nature of God…and our dimension of time.

2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

But in the biblical narrative stories of faith…and in prophetic predictions regarding the future…it is clearly apparent that God walks by the timeless vision of foresight, and not by faith that is a work-in-progress over time…that is an ever-growing and unfolding faith through time.

Our faith must overcome doubt and uncertainty in-the-moment as the result of discouraging outward appearances…that are purposely and ingeniously written into our God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts…for the express purpose of creating and building previously non-existent faith in God…a new quality of faith transferred from being solely placed in ourselves…to instead being placed toward and in God (Acts 14:22; 1 Pet. 5:10).

A God who is brilliant pure light and absolute goodness…at the very top of the vertical spectrum-line of goodness and light…already possesses perfect faith exhibited in divine love…and does not require the passage of time to perfect His faith through experiential lessons-learned.

When combined with divine foresight and foreknowledge in a timeless reality…this reveals a God walking by sight.

The Most Important Issue

“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”   (Luke 12:15)

The argument that the biblical narrative stories of faith cannot plausibly have any other origin…other than through the creative, premeditated, and timeless thinking of God (Isa. 46:9-10, 55:8-9)…based upon the sheer novelty and unconventionality of their goals, themes, and outcomes…is the single most important issue to be considered in all of human history, reality, and experience…of human life on this planet.

I think this is a true statement…when viewed in the grand scheme of things (Mk. 8:36-37).

However we define the positive aspects of the American Dream…currently or projected backwards in time…of a great education, good job, big house, happy marriage, European vacations, sending our kids to college, good health, financial security, achieving worthwhile accomplishments…in comparison the biblical narrative stories of faith are completely unconventional and worldly-contrary…in that they do not directly pursue any of these things as being the primary targets in life to aim for.

In the biblical narrative stories of faith…achieving worldly success is a secondary outcome…a derivative of “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt. 6:33).

This is a revolutionary concept.

The goals, themes, and aspirations of a God-composed journey of faith life-script…as recorded in the Bible…do not take us anywhere within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

They are on a different track altogether (Mt. 7:13-14)…because by necessity they must be on a different track.

The biblical narrative stories of faith have nothing to do with any modern or ancient versions of the American Dream…because God cannot and will not compete for our affections by pandering to the lower worldly level of offering material wealth and success to us…if we will follow Him…like Satan tried to entice Jesus with the power and glory of the kingdoms of this world…in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Lk. 4:5-8).

The positive aspects of the American Dream are commendable and admirable…when their pursuit involves utilizing the God-created and endowed talents and abilities we possess…which entails some measure of humility in the recognition that we cannot claim the credit for the existence of these personal talents and abilities.

But the key biblical point is not to go it alone…on our own…without God our creator (Gen. 3:1-6).

The biblical narrative stories of faith are on a higher level…above the lower zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…up at the elevated realm of the higher ways and thoughts of God…precisely where Satan is unwilling and incapable of competing with God…because their two natures…the character of God and the character of Satan…are vastly different.

The detailed, specified direction of the biblical narrative stories of faith have the highest goals and aspirations…which bypass any random-chance serendipity of other possible storyline plots…sweeping away along with everything else the repetitious mediocrity of the pursuit of the goals, themes, and aspirations of the worldly conventionality portions of the American Dream…a dream more often than not…never achieved by the vast majority of people in the world.

For these reasons, this book argues…in every essay…that the biblical narrative stories of faith would never be imagined, conceived of, or invented…by human fiction-writers.

The biblical narrative stories of faith would never be imagined and composed by authors like John Steinbeck, or Ernest Hemingway, or Mark Twain, or Jane Austin, or William Shakespeare, or an exceptionally gifted and far-sighted assortment of roughly forty Jewish writers…excepting the Greek Gentile author Luke…composing the Bible over a 1,500-year period.

This may be one of the most important arguments made in all of human reality and experience…because a personal relationship with our Creator God (Jn. 14:6)…has fundamental, universal application to every person on the planet…regardless of geographical location, cultural background, economic status, career path, education level, or personal circumstances.

In the biblical narrative stories of faith…God crafts journey of faith life-scripts to match our created gifts, talents, and abilities…perfectly in the realms of purpose and direction…because God created each one of us.

Abraham cannot be David.  David cannot be Joseph in Egypt.  No one else can be the apostle Paul…except Paul.  The mission-plan for Joseph and Mary…beautifully composed by God and faithfully carried-out by Joseph and Mary…cannot conceivably be occupied by anyone else.

The new covenant strategy of God prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34) that every believer shall know Him from the least to the greatest…is part of the personal relationships that God can capably initiate and bring to successful completion…within the vast infinity of possible specifics and performance levels…from the thief on the cross alongside Jesus…to the apostle Paul called to start new Christian churches throughout the Greco-Roman world in the first-century, and to write the New Testament letters to these churches that have blessed Christians down through the centuries of the Church Age.

The point here is that the biblical narrative stories of faith universally apply to Christians today who are elementary school teachers, building construction painting contractors, stay-at-home moms, professional athletes, concert pianists, Broadway theater actors in New York City, lawyers, accountants, politicians, engineers, business managers, farmers, stock-brokers, journalists, soldiers, church pastors, Christian foreign missionaries, Christian book writers, grandparents, and every other conceivable, positive lifestyle and career path.

God is capable of inserting a biblical narrative story of faith life-script…having worldwide mega-impact or moderated to a lesser extent to match our unique abilities and talents (Jn. 21:20-24)…into the lives of every person who will through faith…pick up their cross, listen in the Spirit, and follow Jesus (Mk. 8:34-37).

The biblical narrative stories of faith are God’s presentation to mankind of revolutionary life-scripts that cannot be defeated by anything coming from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…because God-composed journey of faith life-scripts are on a higher plane altogether.

The biblical narrative stories of faith define for us what human life is supposed to be about.  They define for us what are the purpose and the meaning of human life.

How could anything be more important than this?

For today’s Christian…sharing our faith…sharing our testimony about our salvation and our subsequent journey of faith…to family, friends, co-workers, and to the world-at-large…we sometimes have to argue uphill to first dispel some of the modern cultural biases, misconceptions, and factual mistruths regarding the Bible and Christianity…before we can even reach the point of being able to discuss who Jesus Christ is, what He has to offer, and to tell our story of what He has done for us (Acts 28:23).

The apostle Paul’s sermon on the Areopagus in the city of Athens, Greece…is an argument primarily addressed and tailored to philosophers…Greek citizens who from the time of Aristotle had been debating the pros and cons of the apparent design observable in nature…versus the naturalistic viewpoint of non-theistic materialism…that there is no god outside of our natural world.

The classical design argument…versus the opposing common descent argument articulated specifically in Darwinian macroevolution…a discussion critical and of immense importance in our modern debate into the ultimate, underlying purpose behind our universe and the existence of complex, thinking beings like ourselves…is now part of the mix at this time…in Christian evangelism…in the modern iteration of the Great Commission to take the gospel message to all the nations of the earth…discussed in Part Two of this book.

The issues raised in the biblical narrative stories of faith pre-date the modern Christian apologetics topics debated today…yet are so basic and fundamental to the purpose and meaning of human life…that they are as fresh and applicable for us today…as they were for the great characters of faith in the biblical Old and New Testaments.

The High Price of Salvation

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”                (1 Cor. 2:8)

To the religious elites in Jerusalem in the first-century…the Messiah was merely a “means to an end”…a useful deliverer to set the nation of Israel free from Roman political and military occupation.

These leaders could not see any value in a relationship with God through faith in Jesus the Christ…leading to an adventurous and liberating journey of faith after the pattern of Abraham, Moses, David, and the other great men and women of faith in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament)…novel and innovative journeys of faith which God did in fact create for the new members of the early Christian church in the first-century.

The Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem were users of other people…users of worldliness.  They were adept at bending people to their will.  They were masters at spinning-the-narrative to suit themselves…to obtain their own ends.

In this mindset, they were incapable of an open, teachable, give-and-take personal relationship with God…exercising their free-will choice in combination with the leading of God in a biblical-quality journey of faith.

They did not want to follow God to dig deeper…to discover first-hand through real-life experience…the meaning of Proverbs 3:5-6 or Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Self-confident, pride-filled resistance to personal reformation, genuine repentance, spiritual character growth, and the universally dreaded word—change—sadly blocked this out of their consciousness.

The new covenant Christian life is the diametric opposite of this worldly mindset.

We are not a “means to an end” for God.  God is not “using” us as a disposable asset or an expendable entity in our journeys of faith.

God-composed journey of faith life-scripts are designed to establish and solidify a personal relationship with God…so valuable to God that Jesus went to the cross to purchase this relationship with His own blood.  Jesus said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Jesus Christ offers deliverance in the deepest and fullest sense imaginable.  Christianity and God-composed journeys of faith are all about radical change of the heart in the highest and best possible way.

Roman crucifixion is what the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes in first-century Jerusalem thought of this concept…this concept of a biblical-quality walk of faith following Jesus Christ…of a change of heart (John 3)…into personal and national deliverance…a concept that would and did change the world through the early Christian church.

The rejection of Jesus the Son of God…based partly upon worldly perceptions and calculations…is factored into the equation of the cross (Isaiah 53).

God brilliantly makes this rejection of a personal relationship with Him…condensed, focused, and exaggerated out of all sensible proportion…at the cross of Calvary…the portal through which salvation and eternal life comes to people of faith through Christ.

But the rejection of a personal relationship with God through a journey of faith…culminating in the cross…is not just one small factor.  It is the main component in the social, political, and religious reality that sends Jesus of Nazareth to a brutal and ignominious death on the cross.

Jesus encourages the disciples in John 16:33 by saying: “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

This forever emphatically places worldly conventional normalcy and thinking in the subordinate position it merits in relation to a God-composed adventure of faith.

An old saying aptly applies here: “If we aim for nothing, we are sure to hit it.”

Our new covenant Christian life is not a cheaply purchased, cheaply gained…means to an end.

The value to God of a joint-venture journey of faith with us is seen in the high purchase price of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Hard is What Makes It Great

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”                                      (2 Pet. 1:16)

The characters of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David are not myths…because no human literary genius could invent them.

The biblical lives of faith are so unconventional compared to worldly horizontal, temporal, here-and-now thinking…that their life storylines lay far outside of humanistic imaginative invention.

It takes a divine worldview…outside of time and conventional thinking…to create the life-scripts of the people of faith in the Bible.

We do not need ancient archaeological evidence to corroborate their existence or their storylines, although this certainly helps in the field of biblical apologetics.

The uniqueness and originality of God-composed life-script adventures of faith…validate the existence and reality of the biblical people of faith.

The unbelieving skeptic must explain the uniquely singular origin of the cross of Christ…God displacing our ways with His higher ways…uniformly and consistently embedded within these biblical storylines…starting in the book of Genesis and proceeding throughout the entire Bible.

This has been said repeatedly throughout this book.

Mankind needed the initiation of a journey of faith…starting with Abraham roughly around 2,100 B.C., and we need biblical-quality journeys of faith today.

Abraham did not suggest to God that he needed a change of scenery and that a move to Canaan would be beneficial.  Abraham probably would have been happy to stay right where he was in the city of Haran.

God’s higher plans…the way of the cross…displaced what Abraham might otherwise have wanted to do according to conventional norms…with a brilliantly imaginative and totally unconventional life-story for the benefit of mankind and the fulfillment of an incredible joint-venture journey of faith with God.

But it was not easy.

Joseph could never have dreamed up the cascade of events that led to him becoming governor of Egypt during a famine crisis, resulting in his family coming to reside in Egypt.

The future nation of Israel needed a secure place to grow in numbers…and then a strong positive motivation to leave Egypt when the right time came.

But Joseph’s adventure of faith was not easy.

The growing nation of Israel in Egypt needed a deliverer.  At the time of the calling of Moses at the burning bush, Moses probably would have been happy to live-out the rest of his life as a shepherd in Midian.

Moses certainly did not suggest or volunteer for the mission to deliver his people from Egypt…at the time of the burning bush.

Moses at that point in his life did not want to go to Egypt and to take-on the daunting task of confronting Pharaoh for the release of the Israelites.

But looking back in hindsight, after the miraculous delivery of the people and the parting of the Red Sea, and after forty years in the wilderness in preparation for the conquering of the promised Land…I think that Moses would be glad beyond measure that God displaced his plans with God’s higher plans.

After the up-and-down period of the judges, Israel needed the combination of both a godly king and a military leader to bring stability to the nation of Israel and to solidify its borders.

The challenging pathway of preparation and apprenticeship to becoming the king of Israel…for David…was beyond his creative imagination…beyond his ability to contrive and orchestrate…and outside of what he would have chosen for himself according to worldly conventional normalcy (Ps. 23:4).

Yet we see in the account of the life of David and read in his beautifully inspired psalms…the story of a man who would not exchange his difficult yet purpose-filled life for anything else…not for all the world.

What makes a journey of faith hard is also what makes it great.

No one would want all of the challenges and hardships of a genuine journey of faith as recorded in the Bible.

This is one feature that authenticates the divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

The cross of Christ is difficult…it comes with a cost.

Yet we honor the great men and women of faith in the Bible for their personal sacrifices for a higher good…for following their God-composed life-scripts to meet a specific need…against the grain of worldly conventional thinking and normalcy.

This is the Christian life in the risk-filled zone of a God-composed journey of faith.

A Calling to a Higher Level

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”               (Col. 3:2-3)

If the things that underlie the cross of Christ seem complex, it is now the time in human redemptive history to unpack the cross and divide its meaning into the various parts that make up the rejection of Jesus Christ…now and in the first-century A.D.

It is very important for the Christian church today to be able to understand the costs and the benefits of Christian discipleship.

Proverbs 3:5-6 reads…”Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

This is worldly unconventional and completely contrary to the self-direction, self-reliance, and autonomous individualism of the modern philosophical worldview of humanism.

Galatians 2:20 reads…”I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

This is worldly unconventional in the extreme.

The new covenant relationship with God as spelled-out in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is as opposite to our culturally modern thinking of naturalism and our post-modern thinking of the relative equality of ideas…as can be.

All new covenant believers knowing God personally…through God-composed journeys of faith…is supernatural to the core and at the same time politically incorrect in its exclusivity regarding true-life experience.

Every word in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7) is worldly unconventional…creating a philosophically moral paradigm shift in the cultural thinking of the ancient world (see the book God: The Evidence, by Patrick Glynn, Chapter 5 for an excellent discussion of this concept) and setting a high standard for a modern, liberating worldview that is only accessible through the divinely crafted specifications of picking up our cross and following Jesus Christ for the sake of the gospel.

What if…in the very near future…the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29 energizes the widespread preaching of the gospel message that many people…because of worldly conventional thinking…again do not want to hear?

What if people who are stuck in horizontally conventional normalcy…only wanting solutions to worldly conventional problems…creates again a culture-dividing collision between the Holy Spirit inspired salvation, priceless in its eternal impact, contrasted with the horizontally flat, worldly salvation of temporary solutions to our current world problems?

This would again…for many people…set-up a rejection of Jesus Christ for some of the same repeat reasons He was rejected in the first-century.

The unconventionality of a God-composed journey of faith introduces a concept into human experience that is disruptive and divisive at a fundamental level (Mt. 10:34).

The Christian life in the risk-filled zone of faith is a call to a higher level of thinking and living built upon actionable faith and trust in God…to match the example of faith began in the life-script of Abraham and continued in variations-on-a-common-theme in the great men and women of faith recorded throughout the Bible.

An Adventure of Faith is a Better Alternative

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”                                                              (Col. 3:4)

When God connects with people of faith…the result is unconventional.

A biblical-quality journey of faith is not interchangeable with worldly conventional normalcy….they are on two different levels…two entirely different domains of reality.

Yes, it is blasphemy to claim to be the Son of God…but only because Jesus and His mission did not fit the worldly horizontal expectations of the leadership in Jerusalem and a large portion of the populace…who were told for centuries to expect a warrior/prophet king in the mold of a Moses or David or one of the judges…as Messiah.

All of the humiliation of the inflexibly close-minded, stubbornly blind rejection of Jesus Christ is condensed down into the cross of Calvary.

But if we unpack it and spread it out backwards in reverse order leading up to Calvary, part of the rejection of Jesus is based upon a rejection of God-composed, risk-filled journey of faith life-scripts that begin with Abraham (Lk. 11:52; Jn. 8:39-40), starting way back in time in the 12th chapter of Genesis…the first book in the Bible.

The narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible are at the core of Judaism in the Old Testament and Christianity in the New Testament.

A journey of faith like that of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Samuel, David, Esther and Mordecai, Elijah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, to name only a few, is precisely how the new covenant “least-to-the-greatest” believers all get to know God personally (Jer. 31:31-34).

A biblical-quality journey of faith has no parallels with worldly conventional thinking.

This is not a new interpretation of the Bible.  This is not some version of self-energized asceticism.

God displacing our ways with His higher ways in the real, concrete events and circumstances of the lives of believers is the core central theme in the biblical narrative stories of faith…that bears repeating over and over again from many perspectives…from many angles…in any Christian book attempting to adjudicate the multiple competing narratives awash in our modern culture.

This concept of the cross of Christ in our lives is right there in plainly spoken words and action-examples throughout the Bible.

I particularly like the classic quote by G.K. Chesterton…that Christianity has not been “tried and found wanting” but “found difficult and never tried” (see God: The Evidence, by Patrick Glynn, page 149).

Committed Christian discipleship, over time, leads to a manifestation of the positive fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) within the characters of Spirit-born and Spirit-led Christians.

A God-composed journey of faith is the best and highest route to take…in all of human experience…even when this route involves a difficult and challenging good-works ministry to mankind in a particular area of need…or the extreme outcome of outright persecution and possibly martyrdom.

In other words, a biblical-quality, God-composed adventure of faith is a better alternative to the mediocrity of worldly conventional normalcy…when our spiritual vision is aimed vertically toward eternity.

The reality is that a perfectly lived journey of faith as exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus the divine Son of God, leads directly to the cross on Calvary Hill.

Jesus instructs His followers to pick up their crosses…not to shun or ignore the cross element in our journeys of faith.

God displacing our ways with His higher ways is the essence of the danger zone of a Christian life of faith.

The Light of the World

In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says to the soon-to- become Christians standing before Him…and to all future Christians…that we are to be the light of the world…that a city on a hill cannot be hid, and that a lit candle is placed on a candlestick (lampstand)…not under a “bushel”…to give light to all who are inside the house.

This implies that Christians are to be different…but in what way?

The answer is…in the way of demeanor, attitudes, tone, tenor, and character…not “conforming to this world” (Rom. 12:2).

Paul says of the Jews of his day: “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written” (Rom. 2:24).  The Jews were supposed to be the light to the Gentiles, showing them the way to the one, true, living God and away from polytheistic idol-worship.

Instead the Jews in the first-century were worldly-minded in the worst way (Jn. 8:32; 11:48).

They were bound by horizontally conventional, worldly thinking…not having journeys of faith like Abraham…not following in the heritage and footsteps of the great men and women of faith in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament).

What this has to say to Spirit-born Christians today is that we are not supposed to be living in the reactive mode in the zone of worldly conventional thinking.

We are not supposed to be merely responding to whatever comes our way in life in conformity to the current social paradigm of random, chance-driven progress…based upon the slowly dissolving and disappearing theory of Darwinian naturalistic evolution…unfortunately still pervasive in our modern culture.

We do not have to wait for someone else to start a worldwide Christian reformation.

For Spirit-born Christians…absolutely nothing stops us from being the very best people we can be…of starting our own personal reformation within our sphere-of-influence…of being the best husband, wife, parent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandparent, friend, employer or employee, student, and citizen.

What differentiates a journey of faith following Jesus Christ…from the self-realization program of self-energized good works…is that born-again Christians have the Holy Spirit to help us achieve a better and higher level of godliness and holiness in our lives (Col. 3:8-10)…based upon what God has called us to do.

God has detailed and specific life-scripts…to procure our eternal happiness through the cross and the resurrection…His cross and our cross…above and beyond human imagination or literary invention.

What is more whimsical and irrational…to place our faith and trust in the God who crafted the extraordinary biblical narrative stories of faith…fully formed, premeditated, and ready to step into right out of the box…no tools required…or to culturally conform to a system based upon random-chance that by definition has no foresight, no expectations, no goals, no purpose, no meaning, no end-points to aim for…and thus no clear path to get there (Mk. 8:36-37)?

The undirected relativism of post-modernism…pervasive in our culture…has the potential to go in meaningless circles…leading nowhere.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script for Spirit-born Christians today is intended to craft us into becoming the light of the world…a very specific outcome.

This is one goal of the Christian life in the risky zone of faith.

It is the Same God which Worketh All in All 2

The concept of walking in the Spirit was created for us…to be actualized in this current world context (Col. 3:1-3; Gal. 2:20, 5:25; Eph. 3:11-12).

God-composed journeys of faith are written and managed by God to lift us up and out of a journey of self into the higher ways and thoughts of God.  This is the humanly inconceivable fork-in-the-road…the supernatural point…where a journey of self and a journey of faith divide asunder.

This God-invented worldview of journeys of faith is another component of the unselfish character trait of divine love.  This is why without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)…because without releasing our faith and stepping-out into our God-composed adventure of faith…it is difficult in a system of reality having free-will choice…for God to help us.

Before we compare the magnitude of our callings unfavorably with the giants of faith in the Bible…let’s listen to what else is said by and about Paul on the subject of new covenant callings of God (Jer. 31:31-34).

In Acts chapter 22 Paul defends himself before the rioting mob of people in Jerusalem, by recounting what Ananias said to Paul in Damascus: “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.  For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15).

Would most of us choose for ourselves the challenging life-script for Paul as recorded in the book of Acts…oftentimes teetering on the edge of the precipice of life-and-death…to walk in the singularly unique program that would successfully evangelize the first-century Greco-Roman world…and generate the divinely inspired and sanctioned composition of Paul’s New Testament letters to the early churches…that define orthodox doctrines and practice for Christian discipleship?

Would most of us choose the program of Abraham to patiently wait for the birth of Isaac…and then to triumphantly push through the challenging test of faith on Mount Moriah…to become the “father of faith?”

Would we choose to walk in the steps of Joseph in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison…in order to be trained to become the governor of Egypt and to set in motion the extraordinary events that would create the future nation of Israel?

Would we be willing to pay a similar high-price…the cost of jettisoning our worldly claims to conventional normalcy and thinking…by stepping into our God-composed adventure of faith tailored specifically and narrowly to match our created talents and abilities…come what may?

If God enlists us…asks us to follow Him into a fulfilling yet challenging calling that will help other people…but has the element of our having to give up some normally expected aspirations contained within conventional life…would we say yes to God and go…despite the cost?

In my opinion, the four New Testament gospels, the Book of Acts, the apostle’s letters to the churches, and Revelation…in one aspect serve as a more universal expansion of the biblical narrative stories of faith recorded in the Old Testament…applicable to every Spirit-born Christian in the relationships God wants to have with believers “from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer. 31:34).

As Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude write their letters to the early churches…the precise details of Christian discipleship are spelled-out in a more expanded way to cover the innumerable variations of callings and service that God intends to occur in the New Covenant Age…of the increased number and depth of personal relationships between God and people…from the least to the greatest.

In my opinion, this means that God intends to insert into the life-script of every modern Christian…who will pick up their cross to follow Jesus…some measure of this radical biblical faith we see throughout the Bible…but in a measure and to an extent that displaces our ways with God’s higher ways…in New Testament modulated gradations of callings that match what the apostles are writing about…to the Christians in the early churches.

This means that I do not have to have as spectacular a life-script calling as Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Elijah, Peter, or Paul…and still have a very meaningful and fulfilling relationship with God that produces beneficial fruit that will bless myself and others.

This is what Jesus Christ is asking of Spirit-born Christians today…not within the worldly conventional realm of self-sovereignty…but in the divinely created worldview realm of novel, adventurous, God-scripted journeys of faith.

Picking up our cross for the sake of Jesus and the gospel (Mk. 8:34-35)…is a divine creation of God above and far outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…which by its very existence as an alternate viable worldview…argues for the divine origin of the Bible.

It is the Same God which Worketh All in All 1

When Christians today compare ourselves with the callings of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Joshua, Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Huldah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Peter, James, John, or Paul…we do not see the same magnitude and intensity of calling in the specific events of our lives on a similar grand scale…as these great men and women of faith in the Bible.

Why is that?

Our understanding of God’s plans and purposes for people…in terms of journeys of faith (Heb. 11:1)…begins with the detailed life-script of Abraham the biblical “father of faith” as he is called of God  to travel from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan.

With each step Abraham takes God is displacing whatever normative plans Abraham would have had in Haran according to its culture and conventions…with a non-worldly, unconventional life-script containing the critically new element of faith in God…a life-script Abraham would never have imagined in his wildest dreams.

And with each step Abraham takes towards Canaan and away from Haran…the starting skeptical hypothesis that this story is human invented fiction…that God does not exist in reality and therefore could not have spoken to Abraham…is a door closed shut by reason of the innovative novelty of the setting aside of human autonomous self-sovereignty…that is the through-line of the story.

The biblical message is that if we are to experience the optimum course toward discovering fulfillment and satisfaction in life to their fullest extent…then God’s higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9)…in the form of a God-composed life-script…must displace our tendency to go our own way according to our thinking and preferences.

The initiative here…as in every narrative story of faith in the Bible…is with God.

This concept has already been covered in each of the preceding essays…but examines a slightly different point here.

People of faith in the Bible react to God’s enlistment of them into a scheme of events and circumstances that stretch them…in terms of a relationship with God and in self-sacrificing service to others… far beyond anything they could have invented or contrived.

If God is the initiator of the faith-program and its scope, outreach, and magnitude…the divine composer of all journey of faith life-script callings…then today’s Christians must surrender and yield ourselves to Christ in prayer…and listen in the Spirit…to actualize a similar fulfilling and challenging calling in our own lives.

This is the whole point that separates-out and validates the divine origin of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.  They do not start with human creative imagination, invention, contrivance, or self-generated energy.

The example and argument from scripture is that biblical narrative stories of faith are so outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that they cannot be the product of human inventive imagination or literary fiction.

The response of Jesus to Peter’s question about the calling of the apostle John: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?  Follow thou me” (Jn. 21:22)…makes no sense within the default worldview program of conventional thinking based on self-energized good works and personality driven self-direction.

But this response makes perfect sense in the worldview reality of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…in the biblical narrative stories of faith starting with Abraham…and in our Christian callings to very specific service today…to match our created talents and abilities.

The big question here is…does this divinely created worldview choice of a journey of faith apply universally to all Spirit-born Christians today?  Does its scope and magnitude reach down into the commonplace reality of “normal life” to produce something spectacular and extraordinary…yet typically unrecognized and unheralded by worldly conventional standards?

Paul addresses this very practical question of the varied, comparative magnitudes of our callings in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 when he writes:

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

“As it hath pleased him”…as it has pleased God…the journey-of-faith script-writer…is the key theme here.

But the sharper-than-any-sword, cutting-edge truth here is that God-composed journeys of faith…after the biblical pattern…are not written for God’s benefit.

They are written for us.

One Key Point Regarding Abraham 2

It would unquestionably appear that there is a key element within the biblical narrative stories of faith…of death to self-direction and self-reliance in terms of pursuing the worldly conventional tenets of the American Dream­…a totally unconventional strategy of application to human lives…of a seed that must fall into the ground and die (Jn. 12:24)…before springing up into a new, transformed, and totally different lifestyle from its previous life-form as a seed.

This is a concept that is universal in every God-composed adventure of faith life-script recorded in the Bible.

There are two important takeaways from this observation…central to the argument for the divine origin of the Bible and Christianity.

First, this initial and preliminary time-period of adversity that produces the outward appearance of failure and set-back in terms of worldly conventional norms…that sets aside or removes all-together the pursuit of individual success toward the popularly accepted direction of the American Dream…as has been and will be discussed in multiple variations-on-a-theme throughout this book…would never originate out of humanistic literary fiction.

Second, only God could and would compose life-scripts that contain a specific set of events and circumstances…that correctly rearranges the vertical order of authority in the relationship…of God rightfully being above us…rather than us incorrectly and foolishly above God.

Apparently…as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…a large dose of adversity is the remedy to cure the malady of self-sovereignty…that will mar and block our ability to walk with God through a journey of faith.

The biblical narrative stories of faith contain the one element that would never originate out of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…the correct displacement of our ways with the higher ways and thoughts of God (Isa. 55:8-9)…of God rightfully sitting upon His throne as King…correctly positioning Himself above us…His detailed short-term and long-term plans for specific life-missions taking priority over our plans.

I did not make this up.  This is what we see in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

The concept of a seed falling into the ground to die…before being able to spring up from the ground into a tree, bush, or plant that produces grains, fruits, and vegetables…as applied in unprecedented fashion to real human lives through God-composed life-scripts…having the enormous practical consequences of the risk of failure playing-out in the events of our lives…is clearly and openly revealed to us in Judges 7:3.

The proper arrangement of God above us as leader and guide in our expedition through a God-composed journey of faith…is brilliantly and succinctly described in God’s instructions to Gideon…in reducing the numerical size of Gideon’s army to go out in battle against the overwhelming force of the Midianite army…producing circumstances that could end in either miraculous success…or utter catastrophe…creating a divine plan of attack that falls far outside of the imagination of Gideon…and far outside of conventional thinking:

“And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me” (Judg. 7:3).

This incredibly innovative and unconventional idea of a seed…falling into the ground to die…then springing up into life…managed entirely within a God-composed journey of faith life-script…has as one of its primary goals to reverse the vertical priority of the personal relationship…with God as leader…and us as followers.

This divine use of the negative ingredient of temporary adversity skillfully puts our worldly dreams and aspirations…conventionally based on our internal perception of our in-built, innate gifts and abilities…into the ground to die…only to spring up into new, better, and different life-missions as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…confirming the divine origin of these biblical narrative stories of faith…and validating the truth of the Bible and of Christianity.

No human writers could or would invent a new religion having this unique concept of a seed first needing to die in the ground…in order to rise-up out of the ground in the new form of a tree, bush, or plant…bearing edible good fruit or vegetables…as part of the complex, God-composed life-scripts for human beings.

To depict God as the active agent in setting-up…in the biblical narrative stories of faith…this previously unheard of and completely exclusive feature of God turning upside-down the autonomous individualism of worldly conventional thinking…placing Himself correctly in the leadership role in our lives…introducing the elements of risk and faith into our life experience…through the vehicle of a journey of faith (Heb. 11:1)…as pure inventive human literary fiction…is entirely nonsensical.

This insight into the depth of the underlying issues…and the creative artistic genius of these biblical stories…well outside of the parameters of human invented literary fiction…put a kibosh on the false assertion that the biblical narrative stories of faith are nothing more than human invented religion.

In the Sermon on the Mount…Jesus says: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).

In Mark 8:36…Jesus says: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

God can craft people like Abraham into the father of faith, like the Hebrew foreigner Joseph into the governor in ancient Egypt, Moses the shepherd in Midian into the great deliverer of the nation of Israel out of bondage as slaves in Egypt, the young man David of lowly background into the King of Israel, Peter the fisherman into the leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem, and the persecutor Paul into the premier Christian evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world…to name only a few from the Bible.

But all of the people of faith in the Bible…achieved their success not by aiming directly at the American Dream…but aiming instead at the specific goals of their God-composed mission-plans…eventually arriving at the top of the heap in terms of human achievement…but achieved by way of the cross of Christ…the Holy Spirit guided tour into the discovery of the all-truth of John 16:13.

I have seen both sides of this in my life.  Most people have.

I have seen people who went straight for the money…in pursuit of wealth and all that it brings in terms of recognition, pride of accomplishment, and worldly esteem.

But these people would do anything to get ahead…cut corners illegally in terms of not following laws and regulations…lie to people…have no care whatsoever about improving operations and doing things right in order to cut costs…and despitefully use other people as means-to-an-end rather than developing healthy relationships built upon respect and the placing of value on the contributions of subordinates.

We can aim directly at obtaining wealth with the goal of actualizing the end-points of the American Dream in our lives…but even if we gain the whole world…we can lose our own soul.

Salvation and eternal life is a gift from God that is of inestimable worth…offered freely to mankind through repentance of sins and faith placed in Jesus Christ (Mt. 4:17)…and is the possession of all Spirit-born Christians past and present.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script for Christians today is also a gift from God…designed to take us through life the right way…focusing on goals and aspirations that are eternally important and of priceless value.

What is incredibly interesting here…is that the standard and traditional morals and ethics of the Christian life…transcending above and being so fundamentally different in their aim and aspirations…from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…for twenty-plus centuries of human history now…that this would in modern-day hindsight make the sophisticated and rational case…that this deep and complex reality of the direction of where we aim our priorities and aspirations…in journeys of self or in journeys of faith…could not have originated out of worldly conventional thinking…and therefore must have a divine origin coming from the creative mind and heart of God.

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