The Angle of Our Vision

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”                                             (Mt. 6:33)

            This blog is not about church organizations or structures.  It is about the people who make up the universal Christian church of Spirit-born believers around the world.  Get people personally connected to Jesus Christ, and He can then capably take it from there to produce the positive results we read about in the lives of the people of faith recorded in the Bible. 

            A genuine reformation in the Christian church begins with repentance, prayer, Bible study, listening in the Spirit, and a heartfelt desire for genuine discipleship. 

            But a fundamental reality in the world is that not many people listen to the words of the true prophet at the moment the message is being delivered.  This is primarily due to the vertical separation between the message of the prophet’s speech in the elevated realm of faith and trust in God, and how well people in-the-moment have the capacity for listening “in the Spirit” (Mt. 11:15; Acts 27:9-11). 

            Most people going about their normal lives have their vision focused horizontally upon day-to-day concerns, and are not contemplating the higher ways of God in their daily affairs (Isa. 55:8-9). 

            But a true prophet of God is always trying to elevate people’s spiritual vision up into the higher realm of daily living combined with “walking in the Spirit.”

            This is the location where faith and trust in God can produce divinely orchestrated outcomes coupled with profound character growth.  This is also the area where resistance to change and the element of risk reside. 

            This is why for many people the sudden introduction of the message of God through a prophet is often a jarring and unwelcome event.  The prophet’s message can be a nettlesome intrusion into our otherwise normative, complacent, worldly sensible plans.    

            Israel historically revered their prophets in hindsight, and went to great efforts to accurately record, maintain, and pass along the sayings and writings of their prophets.  But many of the biblical prophets were persecuted and rejected by their contemporaries at the time they delivered their messages (Jer. 1:19). 

            It is a relatively safe exercise to look backwards in time in nostalgic appreciation for the purely intellectual component of the prophet’s message, conveniently removed into the history of centuries past. 

            It is a relatively safe enterprise to endorse the ancient prophet’s fiery call for personal repentance, a heartfelt change in our lives, and the challenge to step-up into a biblical-style adventure of faith (Mt. 23:20), as long as this message can be interpreted to apply to past generations of our wayward ancestors…and not directly to us. 

            A Spirit-filled prophetic call to surrender all to Jesus today, in full consideration of the costs and benefits involved, can be just as sobering a challenge for us now as it was for the Old Testament Jews listening to Moses, Samuel, Elijah, or Jeremiah. 

            The unique aspect of the final chapter of the Christian church in the last days is that there will not be a future, upcoming, extended period of time in human redemptive history on earth…to nostalgically look back upon the present-day words of prophets calling people to a higher and deeper experience following Jesus Christ…in-the-moment right now. 

            The second coming of Christ brings an end to this current human redemptive period…for all time.  

            This interaction between God and people set within the context of life’s events and circumstances, having mutual faith and trust as the bonding cement of the relationship is not found anywhere else in philosophy, religion, or human experience. 

            The validating element of this arrangement is authenticated by the reality that the living God must actively take up His part of the relationship. 

            Like playing catch with a baseball, someone real has to be on the opposite side to catch the ball and throw it back.  In the case of a biblical journey of faith, the one true God invented the game and openly invites all to participate.

            The entire Bible can be interpreted as God’s attempt to get us to release our faith and elevate our vision up into the realm where God can effectively work with us.  This is actually a key aspect of the Bible that confirms its divine origin. 

            The component of God’s active out-reach toward us is something that cannot be fabricated by human invention.  The callings of God, and the ingenious and varied narrative stories that follow the enlistment of each person of faith recorded in the Bible, are totally outside the imagination and literary invention of man. 

            One classic example of God trying to get people’s vision raised above the horizontal, everyday thinking…is recorded in Mark 12:13-17. 

            The Pharisees and Herodians come to Jesus, and ask Him: “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”  These opponents of Jesus think they have Him intellectually cornered with this cleverly devised question which appears to offer no positive option within the worldly horizontal realm of practical concerns.  Answering yes or no strictly within the bounds of conventional wisdom…spells trouble either way. 

            Telling the Jews not to pay their taxes offends the Roman government.  Telling Jews to dutifully pay their taxes to the hated foreign occupiers offends the populace in the very sensitive area of Jewish national pride and in the practical area of their pocketbooks. 

            But Jesus brilliantly lifts this issue up a level higher into the elevated realm of the Spirit, above our horizontal vision.  Jesus asks the Pharisees to show Him a coin, asks whose image is engraved on the coin, and then unexpectedly divides the answer to their question into two distinct vertical zones. 

            Part one of the fully correct, responsive answer is to render faithfully to the demands of the everyday practical world that which belongs to the everyday world…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. 

            Part two of the answer is to render to God the living faith and trust that can only occur within the elevated realm of the adventures of faith following God, which up until that time were vividly and clearly portrayed throughout the Hebrew Bible.

            This ingenious answer by Jesus to this otherwise difficult question has intrigued skeptics and admirers of Jesus for almost 2,000 years.  The Pharisees and Herodians shake their heads and walk away in amazement at this answer of Jesus.  In its brevity it fully addressed all sides of the issue of practical godliness in this broken world, having the clear bell-ring of truth that left no further opening for a follow-up question. 

            This succinct answer by Jesus is inarguable and unassailable in its pinpoint accurate truthfulness, because it’s simple depth and scope fully encapsulates God’s program for all humanity in a nutshell. 

            Temporarily improving the political equation in Palestine in the first-century was not the solution to Israel’s current problem of Roman occupation.  God had already provided the solution to this problem to Israel hundreds of years before in the book of Judges.  The solution was to turn to God with all of their hearts.  This was the mission of Jesus (Lk. 4:18-19), not to lead a military revolt against the Romans to remove the burden of taxes paid to Caesar.

            The Pharisees and Herodians attempted a strategy of verbal entrapment with Jesus, trying to publicly catch Him in misspoken words.  What they got instead from Jesus the eternal Word of God was a brilliantly concise response of such universal scope and wisdom that the opponents of Jesus eventually recognized their attempts to outwit Jesus in pubic were embarrassingly counterproductive (Mt. 22:46). 

            But the splitting up of this question by the Pharisees and Herodians, into two distinct parts by Jesus, goes infinitely deeper than being merely a clever, temporary evasion of this thorny issue. 

            Jesus is not talking out of both sides of His mouth like modern-day professional politicians.  Behind the insincerity of the motivation to attempt to trap Jesus there exists a profound question that goes to the heart of our faith and relationship with God in this broken and often confusing world.  The answer of Jesus to render to God the things that are God’s soars far above all practical worldly considerations. 

            In a God-composed and orchestrated adventure of faith, everything in our lives is managed and guided by God’s will and way…even the paying of taxes to support the government of an occupying foreign nation (Mt. 17:27). 

            This attitude of faith and trust in God, within the ups and downs of life in a journey of faith, only successfully works through elevated vision focused on the one true living God. 

            In Matthew 16:21-23, Peter strongly voices his objection to the idea that Jesus might fall into the wrong hands and suffer personal injury.  This would otherwise normally be an admirable and commendable reaction from the worldly horizontal viewpoint.  But in this one singularly unique instance, Peter’s proposed physical protection for Jesus is about as far off-target as is humanly possible. 

            The upcoming event of the crucifixion of Jesus for the redemption of mankind was planned from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).  Peter’s spiritual vision, along with the vision of everyone else at that time, was horizontally flat regarding the impending trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

            Peter goes out and weeps bitterly after failing so miserably in the courtyard of Caiaphas, revealing his total lack of understanding regarding the big-picture direction of events that must occur, culminating in the resurrection that forever defeats death and hell (Rev. 1:18). 

            Likewise, the other disciples scatter for safety at the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane.  This also reveals a horizontal misunderstanding of the temporary safety of their position as mere disciples.  The security of this position is based in the historic miscalculation by the religious authorities that focusing exclusively upon the removal of the leader Jesus would quickly stamp out His movement. 

            Because of the conventional thinking of the religious leaders, the disciples had little to fear for their safety during the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. 

            The horizontally flat vision of not understanding the true situation is also clearly evidenced by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus by the wrapping of the body of Jesus with linen strips of cloth according to Jewish customs for permanent burial. 

            This is evidenced a second time by the women coming early Sunday morning to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with spices, again in anticipation of permanent interment and not at all in expectation of an imminent bodily resurrection. 

            A large enough group of people heard and understood the sayings by Jesus that He would rise the third day, to the point of motivating the chief priests and Pharisees to take the extraordinary step of coming to Pilate the day after the crucifixion saying: “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again” (Mt. 27:63).  They then asked permission to place a group of guards and to seal the stone at the tomb of Jesus. 

            It is ironic that the deadly opponents of Jesus are the one group that expresses the possibility of Jesus rising from the tomb. 

            Albeit, in this case, their thinking is not based upon faith in Jesus but on the totally cynical notion that the disciples would attempt to steal the dead body of Jesus, and then falsely claim He rose from the dead.  Their vision is about as worldly horizontal as can be.  This explains their nervous precaution of placing a group of guards at the tomb to prevent the removal of the body. 

            The actions taken by everyone involved in the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection betrays their horizontal mindset. 

            Peter, the other disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus, the women at the tomb, and the opponents of Jesus all are stuck in the understandably commonplace notion that people simply do not raise themselves from the dead. 

            It takes the one-time, supernatural intervention of God the Father to raise Jesus the Son of God from these seemingly impossible circumstances, validating and establishing Jesus Christ as Savior.

            That God the Father supernaturally raised Jesus from the dead is the fuel that propels forward the world-changing gospel message and testimony of the early church, and is the foundation for the Christian church to this day.

            In this critical area of biblical lessons demonstrating God’s attempt to raise our vision upward toward Him, one of the highest illustrative examples is the redemptive reach of the cross of Jesus Christ. 

            How could anyone, including the apostles, grasp ahead of time the enormous idea that one person could die on the cross as satisfaction for all of mankind’s sin…actualized by grace through faith?  The atonement for the mass of sin accumulated by every single person from the beginning of human history…redeemed through the sacrifice of one man Jesus Christ…was in-the-moment simply too much to contemplate. 

            Even someone like Jesus, who is restoring sight to the blind, cleansing lepers, healing cripples, casting out demons, multiplying fish and bread to feed thousands, walking on water, instantly calming a raging storm at sea, and raising the dead…still does not bridge the conceptual gap ahead of time that one person could single-handedly as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice absorb the enormous quantity of mankind’s sins and offences…enabling God to justifiably forgive any person who will come to Him through faith in Christ. 

            People see Jesus raise the widow’s son from the dead in the city of Nain, but they ascribe to this obviously divine miracle the arrival in Israel of a great prophet only.  This is as high as their spiritual vision will allow them to go (Lk. 7:16). 

            Eye-witnessing this miracle did not connect them with the idea of the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice…for the sins of mankind.  One does not necessarily follow the other.  Making atonement for mankind’s sin is a totally different matter. 

            Though Jesus actually told the disciples ahead of time about His impending crucifixion and resurrection (Mk. 8:31), even they did not get it.  It was spiritually above their still worldly horizontal comprehension.  Only after the resurrection did they finally understand. 

            They personally saw and spoke with the resurrected Jesus in His newly restored body, still having the nail-pierced scars on his hands and feet, affirming the divine capacity of the blemish-free Lamb of God Jesus to indeed take away the sins of the world. 

            The perfection of Jesus as the sinless, spotless Lamb of God atonement for mankind’s sin would only make full sense after seeing Jesus visibly risen from the dead. 

            The powerful testimony of Jesus through the words and deeds of His ministry, combined with all of the Old Testament messianic backstory, only comes into clear focus for the disciples after the resurrection. 

            In the glorious new world the disciples awoke to on that fateful Sunday morning, where Jesus is now bodily risen from the dead, the upper boundary line of what was previously possible was completely shattered.  This unanticipated action by God liberated the disciples up above the conventionally horizontal into the realm where all things are possible (Acts 3:6; 4:8). 

            The example of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ stands at the pinnacle of God’s divinely composed outreach to mankind…in a previously unthinkable and unimaginable way…to come upward in our spiritual vision of what God can and will accomplish in our lives if we will place our trust in Him. 

            One man can take upon Himself the sins of the world, if He is the Son of God.

            If absolutely everyone in-the-moment is not comprehending the upcoming resurrection of Jesus Christ prior to and shortly after His crucifixion, and all of the details surrounding their actions and reactions are embarrassing to the apostles of the early church…are we to plausibly believe that these same apostles or someone else subsequently invented this brilliantly imaginative scenario as literary fiction from a detached, mezzanine viewpoint? 

            What would be the origin or frame of reference to explain the unique originality of this creative inspiration if the gospels themselves admit that no one at the time anticipated God the Father raising Jesus from the dead? 

            Why would the gospel writers admit and accurately record this fundamental shortcoming of not grasping the upcoming resurrection, then describe it all with such detail?  And who amongst the followers of Jesus would possess this world-class literary creativity, if it were all pure fiction? 

            Encapsulated within the account itself is the important revelation that the ordinary, naturalistic capacity of our human intellect is not up to the task of anticipating and comprehending ahead of time the higher ways and works of God. 

            God had to arrange the cross and the resurrection in such a heart-breaking and disappointing fashion for the disciples in order to bring everyone to the endpoint of their own self-reliant thinking, plans, and vision. 

            The cross and the resurrection of Jesus forced everyone to squarely face the limited reach of their own horizontal thinking. 

            As the Roman soldiers are hammering the metal spikes through the hands and feet of Jesus, not only is the blood of Jesus cleansing believers from sin, but these metal spikes are going straight through the arrogant pride and hubris of humanism…humanism that was and is blind to what was happening at that moment.

            The cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s most powerful, drastic, and love-filled means to get people to raise our vision higher.  The unsurpassed quality and singular originality of the story validates the divinity of its authorship. 

            This is a reality common to all of the positive journeys of faith recorded in the Bible, and a foreglimpse of the upcoming issues for individual Christians and the Christian church on a colossal scale in the end-times. 

            In a biblical journey of faith, God takes people through tightly crafted and divinely guided circumstances beyond the point where they can depend upon their own self-reliance. 

            This is the surest way…maybe the only way…that God can demonstrate His faithfulness and love for us.       

            Why did the world reject Jesus during His first advent as Messiah? 

            One basic answer is that the religious leadership in Jerusalem and a large portion of the populace had their vision focused horizontally.  Some portion of the populace followed Jesus because they wanted a free meal (Jn. 6:26) and to witness the novelty of miracles (Lk. 23:8). 

            The Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes thought that the removal of Jesus of Nazareth, who showed no signs of leading a successful Jewish military revolt against the Roman occupation of their country according to their expectations, was best achieved through the ignominious death by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. 

            They had no concept of the mission of the messiah as outlined in Isaiah 61:1-2, and no desire for a new covenant gospel message of hope and peace that would offer genuine freedom to the entire world.  This was above their temporal and worldly comprehension.

            The disciples, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the horizontally flat, vision spectrum-line.  Their individual hopes and plans are crushed by the trial, death, and burial of the one they believed to be the long-promised Messiah for Israel. 

            They wondered if they had somehow made a mistake in following Jesus.  It is probably not fair to say that the disciples should have known better.  God arranged events with such precision that the hopes and dreams of the disciples were dependent upon the miracle of a resurrection of Jesus…that was not even within their contemplation. 

            The eternal salvation for mankind and the disappointing heartbreak of the disciples were both contained within the exact same cross and resurrection events.  God had to raise their vision above the horizontal, and it took the most sublimely brilliant, imaginative action composed and orchestrated by God that also contained a painful separation of the disciples from their own mindset, their self-will, and the way they expected things to turn out. 

            In short, the divine love that is contained within the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ extends into our daily lives through a God-composed journey of faith far above the horizontally conventional. 

            This is a truth of such monumental importance and application that it must not be surrendered, misplaced, set aside, lost, or become partially out of focus for the Christian in the last days.

            Someone may ask at this point, how do the narrative stories and examples in the Bible relate to me, and to the modern-day Christian church?  I get up in the morning, go to work, and come home to my wife and children each day…so how do the inspirational stories of the biblical superstars of the faith relate to me in my desire to obtain vertical vision as a Christian? 

            How can God integrate His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9) into the ordinary conventional routine of my daily life? 

            The answer is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, learning to listen in the Spirit, studying the Bible daily, and a willingness to follow the leadership of Jesus within the events and circumstances of our uniquely individual lives. 

            Like the example of playing catch with a baseball, we get better with practice.  But unless we are throwing the ball straight up and catching it by ourselves when it comes back down, we need a minimum of two people for a game of catch.  

            To enter into a biblical style journey of faith having vertical vision, this requires the unmistakably supernatural participation of the living God.  This is the reality for new covenant, Spirit-born Christians that is promised through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13).    

            The solutions to the challenges facing Christians and the Christian church in the last days are found in raising our vision upward toward Jesus Christ in faith and trust. 

            The answers to the upcoming challenges of the end-times are found in the fully committed approach taken by the three young Hebrews confronted with the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:18), by Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 6:22), and by Esther in attempting to be the instrument of God to save her people (Est. 4:16). 

            These are not ancient myths.  This is not man-invented folklore. 

            The opportunity to likewise exercise our faith, to walk in the Spirit, and to be “in Christ” in this broken world in the middle of the unprecedented world-shaking events of the last days, is a privilege, a calling, and an honor beyond reckoning. 

            The theme of this book is to illuminate and clarify this vision of seeing above the horizontal through faith in Christ. 

            An understanding of the role of a collective adventure of faith through the cross…for the entire Christian church as a group…composed and orchestrated by God in a way that is above and beyond human invention is another key truth leading to our success as overcomers in the upcoming end-times events.

The Broad Array of Moral Concepts

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”                                                (Jn. 1:14)

            If the Bible and Christians contend that Jesus Christ is the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins…that He was perfect and without sin during His life and ministry on earth, by what or by whose standard do we judge the existence of this alleged perfect moral character in any person?

            How would we determine that the life of Jesus was at the outer edge of moral perfection, at the peak and the pinnacle of absolute goodness and virtue having no additional room or space at the highest top-most point of the vertical, graduated spectrum-line of virtue and morality, of brilliant pure light and absolute goodness having no room for further improvement?

            What would explain the existence of the diverse categories of moral criteria defining virtue, of the numerous moral concepts broken down into individual words as abstract thoughts accessible to human contemplation that would enable and support a valid determination of the moral credentials of Jesus Christ?

            And finally, where would our highly-advanced capacity to comprehend, to divide, separate-out, and parse these varied conceptual virtues and vices consisting of finely differentiated realities that are true-to-life…come from? 

            Where would this uniquely human capacity originate from, seeing that it does not exist anywhere else in the animal world and therefore cannot plausibly be attributed to a common descent, naturalistic explanation for its origin extending seamlessly from animal instinct to human intellect?

            In short, is this current planet earth the perfect environment to conduct research explorations into the knowledge of good and evil, using the lens of a fallen moral nature that is crucified alongside Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary…redeemed fully so that believers in Christ can with impunity and without risk to our eternal salvation…enter into journeys of faith by picking-up our own cross to follow Jesus Christ into an adventure beyond our initial imagination?

God-composed journey of faith life-scripts are too deep for a naturalistic explanation for their origin

            Leaving aside the recent modern recognition in philosophy that the human mind…when reduced down to only a material “brain” made up of circuits and neurons…devolves into a nonsensical relativism that undermines confidence in the reliability of all human thought, and thereby destroys rationality, scientific investigation, and even philosophies such as atheism itself.

            Yet by simply asking the question and examining the evidence, this in and of itself declares at the outset that Jesus Christ the person we are investigating…is in fact within the zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue by reason of the question being seriously entertained at all. 

            We would not even open such an investigation into the life of any other exceptional person…past or present…because we already correctly acknowledge that only one person in all of history has made a credible, serious claim to have lived a perfect life, and that one person is Jesus Christ.  

            No sane person in all of recorded history has made a viable and well-substantiated claim to embody and demonstrate the moral attributes of brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and perfect virtue…of being, speaking, and acting like a Deity…proactively anticipated for centuries in the biblical Old Testament messianic prophecies and documented and fulfilled later in the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament gospels.

            This raises the probing apologetics question into the divine origin of the composition of the Bible, Old Testament Judaism, and New Testament Christianity…of how…in the first place we would “come by” the capacity to accurately judge whether the life and ministry of Jesus Christ exhausts the extent of the possible outer-limits of moral perfection.

            How would we determine that our current tool-kit of known virtuous characteristics…of well-defined moral attributes…is absolutely exhaustive, adequate, and complete enough for the in-depth moral reasoning needed to evaluate the life of Jesus Christ? 

            How would we know whether there are not some additional, outstanding moral characteristics that we are unaware of…in this current earthly context…above and beyond those demonstrated and exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that would raise the bar higher, that would call into question the impeccable qualifications of Jesus to be the blemish-free and sinless atoning sacrifice for our sins?

            The point here is not whether God has some additional, divine characteristics applicable in heaven that would not concern us presently…that are not relevant here on earth…but whether or not Jesus the Son of God in a human body (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7) exhausts the limits of moral perfection as the God/man in order to qualify as the Passover Lamb of God, one-time atoning sacrifice for sin.

            The question is how this full and varied palette of morals had an origin and came into existence within the reality of human life…to be able to make this assessment.

            The important point in this discussion is the fantastic notion that we would have the moral reasoning tools in terms of human mental capacity, but also in the corresponding complement in the broad array of abstract moral concepts defined in discrete and distinctive words…to be able to make a valid decision for or against salvation faith in Jesus Christ…at this highly advanced level.

            The mere existence of this question removes the key component of naturalistic materialism utilizing the concept of incrementally gradualistic development…because of the easily recognizable wealth of complex and finely differentiated concepts defining moral characteristics within personal relationships…that are a fundamental and established part of the human reasoning capacity from the dawn of human history.

            The critical human invention of writing as one tell-tale indicator of human intellectual progress is dated to as recent a time as 3,200 B.C. in the wedge-shaped cuneiform lettering of Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the cuneiform alphabet in Syria around 2,000 B.C., and in the 22-sign Phoenician alphabet dated around 1,000 B.C.

            The Greeks adopt the Phoenician writing script around 800 B.C.   

            The invention of human writing, of widespread, functional written communication of complex and specified information that locks into time-and-place the human capacity for mature and fully developed moral reasoning…starts only 5,200 years ago.

            We do not have to be a professional anthropologist, sociologist, paleontologist, biologist, or historian to know that there exist no contemporary, eye-witness, written accounts by human authors of the retreat of the Ice-Age glaciers covering the northern continents of America and Europe starting around 12,000 to 10,000 B.C.

            There are no written, eye-witness accounts by the actual participants of humans battling wholly mammoths or saber-toothed tigers during the Pleistocene Ice-Age time-period, prior to the invention of writing, using the letters of an alphabet.

            Are we then to uncritically swallow whole the theoretical paradigm of incrementally gradualistic development as an explanation for the origin of sophisticated and discretely defined moral characteristics…the small step-by-step progressive gradualism proposed by the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism in support of Darwinian macroevolution…still prevalent as a competing worldview narrative today?

            Mindless, undirected, gradualistic development of the capacity for moral reasoning would have left a clearly discernable trail in recorded human history going back for hundreds of thousands of years.

            The great advances in recent history that define the modern Scientific Revolution and the two major Industrial Revolutions are not the product of gradual improvements in the macro-evolution of human mental capacity…broken-up into small steps going back in a linear incline tens or hundreds of thousands of years. 

            These rapid advances of development in modern science and technology are the product of the progressing accumulations of information…an abstract, non-material entity produced by thinking minds and not a discernably progressive material development of the brain.

            Rapid, positive progression over recent time in human intelligence is not a factor as an explanation for the advancements of learning, technology, and the explosive expansion of knowledge over the last three to four decades…called the new Information Age…as this would be called a saltation…a miraculous leap forward as defined in biology.

            Like the sudden appearance of complex life-forms during the Cambrian Explosion 530 million years ago, without the sign of any transitional intermediate precursors found in the Precambrian rock strata, the sudden appearance of human intelligence and the capacity for advanced moral reasoning is extremely brief in relation to the 4.5-billion year age of the earth…and is too sudden in time to be explained by gradualism needing hundreds of thousands of years of development.

            Dr. John Lennox, Oxford mathematician and author suggests in some of his interviews and discussions online on the Internet that the sudden immergence of human intellectual and moral reasoning capacity might be considered another example of being a singularity in the same manner as the Big-Bang creation of the universe, and the sudden immergence of life on earth.

            The mental capacity to technologically problem-solve at the advanced level to take us to the moon in 1969…and the moral reasoning capacity to differentiate and comprehend complex moral concepts…are two realities that define the essence of human beings.

            The point here is that human beings possess a complete and exhaustive array of tools within the broad assortment of moral concepts from which to make an intelligent and reasoned judgment as to the divine quality of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

            Just as orderliness and intelligibility are indispensably coordinated with our human capacity to conduct successful scientific investigation of the natural world, it would be pointless to be presented with the decision-making imperative regarding the truth-claims of Jesus Christ regarding His qualifications as Savior, King, and eternal Ruler if humans did not possess the incredible capacity to make an informed decision.

            Is it therefore more plausible to recognize that the origin of the entire array and panoply of moral characteristics, appearing suddenly and fully defined in scope and range…that this recognition represents a sharp, near-instant vertical upward spike on any conceivable graph-line for the time-duration of the human race, and not anything like incrementally gradualistic development?

            In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists some of the positive fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

            Earlier in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists some of the negative “works of the flesh”: “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.”

            To these two lists of moral attributes and characteristics we could add the concepts of truth, honesty, dignity, loyalty, friendliness, honor, humility, dedication, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, humor, flexibility, empathy, forbearance, consideration, self-sacrifice, gratitude, persistence, commitment, discernment, rationality, logical thinking, being organized, being a peace-maker, fairness, generosity, passion…and a number of other distinct and precise words that describe finely differentiated moral characteristics…and that could be expanded further by listing their negative counterparts.

            Why is this important in a book about the biblical narrative in the modern world?

            When anyone who is a born-again Christian, Bible college student, Christian theologian, atheist, skeptic, or curious truth-seeker begins an examination of the perfect and sinless life of Jesus Christ, they are acknowledging the existence of the very tools of the sophisticated and varied concepts available that precisely define moral characteristics that make such an examination possible.

            Such an investigation acknowledges the reality of the broad array of moral concepts that in and of itself argues as compelling evidence for their divine, advanced, and non-material origin (Gen. 1:26-27)…being inconceivable coming from a purely materialistic origin of a human “brain” consisting of circuits and neurons only…a brain manufactured over time according to the accidental, trial-and-error, chance-happenstance process of random and undirected naturalistic materialism.

            Without this complete and exhaustive tool-kit of concepts by which to judge moral characteristics, a personal decision for or against accepting Christ as Savior would fall short of being meaningful…would not have all of the richly differentiated criteria to support a valid decision…one way or the other.

            We could not accurately and realistically produce an oil-painting depiction of a rugged seascape shoreline with waves crashing against rocks…or of forest trees, blue skies, brilliant white clouds, and a peaceful lakeshore…using only three colors. 

            To create a masterpiece landscape painting, we need the full palate…the full array…of oil-paint colors. 

            For a god-less interpretation of reality to be valid…it would require some reasonable explanation for the creative origin of the extremely complex and nuanced definitions of the many words that describe the advanced moral concepts that human beings use and understand every day, that define the essence of what it means to be human, above and beyond the mere yet brilliant hunting skills exhibited through animal instinct.

            The complexity, specificity, and integrated coherence of the life-story of Jesus Christ in support of His being the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, requiring moral perfection within the context of a human life not only requires a reasonable explanation for the origin of this remarkable concept, but also by necessity raises humans up into the elevated zone of being able to cast their informed votes…for or against…the placing of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Tour Guide through this life. 

            The three complimentary categories: the existence of the broad array of moral concepts, our capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning, and the divinely composed life-script for Jesus Christ…must all be mature, fully developed, and functionally in-time for the appearance of Jesus Christ into this world…in the first-half of the first-century A.D.

            This discussion opens the door into a better and fuller understanding of the uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…validating the life of Jesus to be at the top-most point of moral perfection.

            As discussed in the previous essay and repeated here for emphasis…one area therefore where we can clearly and unambiguously authenticate the divine nature of Jesus Christ is in His perfect compliance with the biblical concept of God-sovereignty in His life-script and performance.

            On the cross Jesus is demonstrating God-sovereignty actualized to absolute perfection…in staying within His God-composed life-script calling to become the Savior of the world…in purely consistent, non-rebellious, sinless unity-of-purpose within the Godhead of the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            The divinely brilliant, creative originality of the cross is that Jesus is experiencing the most acute outward display of worldly failure…while at the same time achieving the greatest single accomplishment for mankind in all of history as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin.

            God combines on the cross two contrasting elements…extreme worldly failure and brilliantly divine success…on the broadest possible range of human experience because the cross at Calvary involves the divine Son of God in a human body (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7) that no human literary writer could ever imagine or invent.

            Jesus Christ on the cross as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins…in perfect demonstration of God-sovereignty…is such a brilliantly divisive yet subtle issue surgically separating truth from error that many modern Jews even today use this perceived failure of Jesus to be the expected Moses, Joshua, or King David type Messiah ushering-in world peace…as still serving as the main reason for why they reject Jesus Christ as Messiah, disqualifying Him on these grounds alone.

            Many Jews in the first-century and today would say that their Messiah would never suffer the indignity of being crucified by the Romans…of being a curse “hanged on a tree.” (Dt. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).

            As we ourselves stand at the cross looking up at Jesus…we either see the Passover Lamb of God performing His God-composed life-script in perfect God-sovereignty…or we see the worst failure of a person that can be imagined in life, the utter humiliation of first being scourged, then afterwards ending their lives through the shame and defeat of Roman crucifixion.

            As we look up at Jesus hanging on the cross, we either see a life-script that was perfectly written to match the unique capacity of the God/man Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the sins of the world, or we see a life-script that falls so far short of the positive aspects and aspirations of the American Dream ancient or modern…that our best option then is to choose to go our own way in a journey of self, according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and reject Jesus Christ altogether.

            The insightfully piercing dichotomy between the perfect God-sovereignty of Jesus Christ…and the self-sovereignty of going our own way of the religious elites and political rulers in Jerusalem…at the cross…is exposed by God alone as no human literary genius could of being as wide apart as the Grand Canyon.

            God alone has the motivation and the ability to highlight on that day atop Calvary Hill…the huge contrast between self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty…to perfection.

            This is a key element that separates-out for us…amidst the sea of multiple competing narratives…the singularly unique biblical narrative in a modern world.

Why Doesn’t God Reveal Himself Empirically?

            God is the architect of one of the most unlikely of creations…the delicate balance of belief and unbelief in our current environment…a management of dynamic information that is unimaginably fine-tuned and precise.

            Balancing belief and unbelief in our world, so that one does not overpower the other, is one of the great spiritual engineering feats in all of human history, yet one we do not…nor would not…normally recognize or attribute to the real God. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief is surprisingly calibrated, landing midway in the narrow zone of falling just beyond the reach of where human inventive imagination and contrivance ends, but falling just short of the demarcation line of clearly revealing its supernatural origin and nature, along with its carefully hidden requirement for periodic adjustments in response to social and cultural change. 

            The most unlikely of creations, because most of us would assume that the God of the Bible…a personal God we can get to know intimately through a journey of faith (Jer. 31:34)…would take every opportunity to tip-the-scale in favor of belief over unbelief, in terms of concrete, factually persuasive, irrefutable evidence in nature and through divine revelation, in favor of belief in His existence, very early in human history. 

            But this is not the case within the human decision-making zone of belief and unbelief. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief, the ability to freely engage with God in a fully-scripted adventure of dynamic faith having the risk, from our perspective, of possible success or failure in-the-moment…or to freely push God away in skeptical unbelief to entirely go our own way…is a true masterpiece of creative ingenuity precisely because of its balanced neutrality in this area of unforced belief or unbelief.

            On Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus Christ could have added to His already busy agenda…to openly walk down Main Street in Jerusalem and right into the Temple sanctuary, in clear view of everyone (Lk. 24:13-32; 36-43; Jn. 20:19-20), validating forever thereafter, without any doubt, His claim to be the divine Son of God.  Like Thomas (Jn. 20:26-28), people could touch his hands and the wound in His side, and believe based on the visual evidence (Jn. 20:29).  

            But then the delicate balance of belief and unbelief would also immediately disappear…forever thereafter. 

            Recognition of Jesus Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6) would not be an open option that could go in either of the two opposing directions of belief and unbelief…but instead would be a strictly obvious fact…like the daily occurrence of the rising sun, or that two-plus-two equals four. 

            This balance of belief and unbelief offers compelling evidence for the divine origin of the biblical message of redemptive salvation by grace through faith, because the mere existence of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief, that is the prerequisite foundation for the exercise of faith…is so transparently neutralso free of the taint of coercive human bias weighted in favor of one direction or the other…that it could never be mistaken as the imperfect conceptual product of human literary invention. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief in our current environment has a supernatural origin…because a humanistic explanation for its creative ingenuity and its functionally balanced longevity over time…is nonsensical.

            The existence of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief, of willingly entering into a risked-filled adventure of biblical faith wherein God displaces our ways with His higher ways, in contrast to pushing God away and going our own way according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, is a transcendent reality that could only come from the divinely imaginative mind of God…having a definite purpose…way beyond the initial set-up capacity of humans to invent, adjust, and sustain over its 4,200 year history, beginning with Abraham the “father of faith.”

            Hard-core biblical skeptics incorrectly want Jesus Christ, as stated above, on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week following His resurrection on Easter morning…to walk openly down the middle of Main Street in broad daylight and straight into the Temple in Jerusalem…thus initiating a widespread, empirically undeniable proof for His claim to be the Son of God, on the same level that we popularly recognize that one-plus-one equals two, or that the sun rises in the east each morning.

            The fundamental shortcoming of this insistence by skeptics of the Bible is that it creates no context…no milieu or environment of life events and circumstances to begin a personal relationship between God and people, within the otherwise insufficient framework of a mere factual acknowledgment and consensus that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.

            It would substitute the wrong category type of empirical facts, in place of the correct type of empirical facts…the correct type being discovered through the sequentially lived experiences of a journey of faith, rather than experiencing a visual observation, after which we would go back to living our lives unaffected, as before, within the parameters of self-sovereignty governed by worldly conventional normalcy.

            Replacing the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…with hard empirical fact…opens wide the door for the humanism of self-sovereignty to take the facts regarding God and mold Him in our image to suit ourselves…rather than the contrary dynamic of God molding us into His image through a journey of faith.

            The common people visually seeing Jesus walking down Main Street in Jerusalem after the resurrection, disrupts and alters the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…removing the critical element of the tension of suspense spread-out over time regarding future outcomes within our life-stories, that creates the context for faith to actualize into the mature, intimate, and personal relationship of trust between God and people, the same as occurs in human relationships (Heb. 11:1, 6).

            There is no moral component…no merit…to acknowledging the factual existence of the noonday sun, or the truth that two-plus-two equals four, and not three or five, other than the correlation to the truth of the accuracy of our information…because these things are not in dispute.

            Mere acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is the Son of God through empirical, observational fact, that would be commonly undisputed, has no change-of-character impact upon the strength of the attractive pull of the worldly conventional narrative.  It has no course-correction, has no power to induce regret, in our worldly decision to go our own way, as autonomous, self-reliant junior gods sitting atop the thrones of our lives.

            Seeing the resurrected Jesus walking openly down Main Street in Jerusalem, visually with our eyes, does not change our resolve to live our lives our way without “interference” from God…any more than seeing with their own eyes Jesus raise Lazarus to life after being four days dead in a rock covered tomb, changed the thinking of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lawyers, and only a few days later in that same week these same men thoroughly and with finality rejecting Jesus…cruelling mocking Him as He hangs dying on the cross (Mt. 27:39-44). 

            The decision to accept Jesus Christ into our lives, to choose to follow Him, is a moral choice involving faith…is a decision of the heart and mind at the center of the reality of personal relationships involving faith and trust…at the center of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief.

            The empirical part comes after we become spiritually born-again, being a supernatural experience that confirms that God actually exists, and as we enter into the Christian discipleship of a journey of faith, that reveals to us what God is like as a person…that builds a personal relationship.

            During the temptation in the Garden of Eden, God could have arrived on the scene, and to empirically refute the serpent and to establish His authority, performed some visual demonstration of His divine powers that the serpent could not duplicate…the serpent being a spiritual manifestation of Satan and not possessing divine powers to match God.

            But God performing a visual demonstration of His power…of a sign that was clearly observable and thus empirical to Adam and Eve, would not and could not in any way establish the personal trustworthiness and integrity of God’s Word…being something entirely in a different category of facts…different from performing a visually observable supernatural act…different from a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  

            Without hitting this nail on the head too many times, the recently resurrected Jesus Christ walking openly down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and into the Temple, merely translates the intimate relationship earned through lived-experience between people and God, into the unremarkably commonplace recognition of an observed fact.  It translates the resurrection of Jesus into a category of facts, the possession of which confers no special merit…on our behalf…or even on God’s behalf.

            This is one thing that makes this time in human history unique, in that the recent discoveries in modern science are creating an empirical revelation about the existence and character of God, precisely timed for the “last days”…beginning to approximate the certainty that would have been produced two thousand years ago had Jesus Christ openly walked down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and straight into the Temple…a few days after His resurrection…and began to teach on His unique calling and mission as the Son of God to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin.

            The lack of empirically undisputed credibility within the written and verbal testimony of the early disciples, who did visually see and engage with the risen Christ after His resurrection (not having the technical means to videotape as “home movies” their interaction with the resurrected Jesus) and the green-light option of skeptical critics to discount the veracity of the supernatural participation of God within the biblical narrative stories of faith, has now turned the corner into the realm of fact-based empirical evidence…identifying and elevating the recognition of the high craftsmanship of the Intelligent Designer God of the material universe, thereby at the same time identifying and recognizing the divine nature of the composition of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            This is a sea-change…an inflection-point…in the history of mankind.

            If the data from modern science is now telling us through the unbiased, independent secular enterprise of human scientific investigation, that there are a vast number of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural world…such as the fine-tuned constants of the laws of physics, the periodic table of elements in chemistry, the Big Bang creation of the universe, and the information within DNA, that identify the inarguable need for an Intelligent Designing Agent…this in essence now empirically shifts the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…something that has never occurred before.

            If the human enterprise of scientific research reveals the logically inescapable need for an Intelligent Designing Agent behind the architectural and engineering design of the natural world…purposely foreseen and intended by God in making the natural world both orderly and intelligible…this revelation coming in the end-times produces the empirical conclusion in the exact way God wanted, through the human investigative search for truth, through the innate, created capacity for human beings to exercise their intellectual and moral reasoning…to actualize into reality the fact that we are made in the image of God and not the mere accidental product of a naturalistic universe.

            Modern scientific investigation was always going to reach a point in time when the inescapable recognition of the need for an Intelligent Designing Agent of the natural world…to explain the presence of complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information…was identifiable everywhere we look in the living and non-living world, now well beyond the rational and plausible reach of purely materialistic causations.

            Because the natural world was always this complex, starting at the Big Bang 13.7-billion years ago for the universe and beginning 4.5-billion years ago for our planet earth, this world-changing epiphany was waiting all this time for human scientific discovery to advance to the point today where intelligent agency is now the only remaining option to explain how all of this came into being.

            As the recognition of the specificity of information increases, the plausibility of random chance decreases as the explanation for the origin of this material universe.

            But equally astounding, the delicate balance between belief and unbelief had to be precisely adjusted and maintained, also all the way up until this time-period in human history, not being categorically decisive for or against either belief or unbelief in the existence of God until modern scientific investigation could weigh-in on the question…to conclude on the basis of fact-based evidence…that the quantity, quality, and upfront timing of the information discovered in the natural world requires a designer.

            The scientific fact-based evidence, obvious to unbiased observers, is that we do not see anything in the living or non-living world that can self-assemble into something that is a complex, specified, and coherently integrated system.

            Information, in the quantity and quality required to produce complex life-forms and their supporting biosphere on earth and in the cosmos, cannot simply come into existence on its own.

            This should also give us a hint…a heads-up…that we are currently living in the end-times.

            The resurrected Jesus on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after Easter morning…openly walking down Main Street and into the Temple being a clearly too premature evidence in the first-century…would have toppled the delicate balance between belief and unbelief towards belief.

            By contrast today modern scientific investigation is revealing not only complex systems of information inexplicable by naturalistic origins…but also that modern science actually dissolves the philosophy of atheism as being self-refuting…discussed in the essay “Are God and Science in Conflict?” 

            The shaky ground that atheism now stands upon thanks to the corrosive solvent of philosophical materialism that asserts that our minds/brains are the undependable product of a random and undirected naturalistic process…dissolves the credibility and reliability of all systems of thought, including science and the philosophy of atheism.

            This is an unexpected and unanticipated development accruing out of Darwinism that could only occur in the end-times…otherwise it would affect the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…too early in human history.

            When the indecisive, put-it-off-until-later, fence-sitting of procrastination regarding the question of belief or unbelief in God, begins to lose some its long-standing truce of neutrality and tips in favor of belief in God…then the equal and opposite reaction is an erosion of unbelief as a previously viable worldview option.

            At some point in time, in the rapid accumulation of evidence, which I believe is now, the only two remaining worldview choices left standing will be belief in God…or people resorting to simply saying “I don’t want to believe in God.”

            Without having the credible excuses of naturalism, Darwinism, or scientism to fall back on…or even the now philosophically illogical position of atheism that is undermined by its own adherence to scientific materialism…the only remaining reason left for choosing to go our own way apart from God is exposed as pure and simple unbelief.

            Skeptical unbelievers and people sitting on the fence, by their choices and actions, will someday soon, in truth be limited to saying: “God, and Christianity, and the Bible”…be damned…I want to live life…my way…no matter what the evidence tells us is the truth.

            Not everyone can become PhD scientists, able to navigate through the technical facts spanning several disciplines of research…supporting either atheism or agency in nature.  

            Winning a consensus that favors design in today’s scientific community, and rejecting naturalism would be without question a monumental event in human history.

            But the discovery by modern science of the inescapable presence of design in the natural world, and thus the existence of an intelligent designer God…expands a million-fold when filtered through the biblical narrative stories of faith…of making a compelling argument that a faith-journey following the God of the Bible is credible, accessible, and advisable in our modern popular culture…as the one true worldview narrative…excluding all others (Mt. 7:13-14; Jn. 11:25, 14:6).

            The amazing revelation here is that it is the unexpected product of modern science that has provided the answer to the age-old objection of skeptical unbelief, that the real God should come forward and reveal Himself empirically by writing across the sky for everyone to see… in fiery-red letters…that He exists and who He is.

            The delicate balance between belief and unbelief provides the free-will opportunity to cast a vote in favor of making the God of the Bible our ruling King…or to reject Him altogether in favor of the humanistic worldview of self-sovereignty.

            For God to write across the sky in fiery-red letters that He exists and who He is…and to worship only Him…is an empirical evidence for God that removes the free-will quality of our decision to vote for or against God.

            Jesus on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His resurrection walking openly down Main Street and into the Temple in Jerusalem…likewise removes the freedom of choice and replaces it with factually visible evidence.

            Everyone in heaven will be there because they wanted to be there…because they voted in a “fair and free election” to make Jesus Christ their King and Ruler.

            Those who voted for the skeptical unbelief of self-sovereignty within the free-will choice afforded them through the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…will not be in heaven by their own decision to push God away.  

            Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:24…”I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

            The Pharisees and scribes also wanted an empirical sign from Jesus to authenticate His qualifications, and Jesus said no (Mt. 12:38-39).

            A personal relationship is based upon mutual faith and trust…and that is one explanation for why God chooses to introduce Himself to the world through the biblical narrative stories of faith…and why He does not reveal Himself universally to everyone through the empiricism of a “sign from heaven.”

            But what is remarkable in our modern world today like never before…is that both the scientific data about the natural world and the narrative stories of faith from the Bible…are telling us who God is and what God is like…in a compelling way that approaching the certainty of being a sign from heaven.

“The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man boast.”                                                           (Eph. 2:8-9)

Could the Story of Jesus Christ be Human Literary Invention?

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”                                                                                                             (Jn. 20:31)

            In the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, He encounters push-back from the religious elites in Israel generally and in Jerusalem specifically, which exhibits the unmistakable characteristic of self-righteousness.

            This is displayed in the lack of empathy for the common people…the attitude of looking-down-their noses at the less-educated general public…which then stereotyped Jesus into the lower category of being a common, middle-class artisan carpenter coming from the insignificant small-town of Nazareth in Galilee (Jn. 7:15). 

            This lack of empathy for the common people was the exact opposite of what we should expect from religious leaders who are supposed to be in the business of helping other people.

            The self-righteous character of the religious elites, painfully pointed-out by Jesus throughout His ministry…is too numerous in the New Testament gospels to be discussed in detail here (Mt. 3:7-12; Lk. 4:16-30; Mt. 5:20, 9:10-13, 16:11-12, 20:25-28; Lk. 11:39-52; Jn. 5:38, 7:19, 7:49, 8:24, 40, 44, 9:34).

            The attribute of humility that is revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God…in temporarily leaving His position in heaven as the divine Second Person of the Trinity…to be born into a common family in Nazareth as a human and learning the trade of becoming a carpenter from his stepfather Joseph…exhibits the broadest imaginable range of character in assuming the most worldly humble status in contrast to His true identity.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ is Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper…times ten…combining royalty and humility in the same Person.

            Align this with the worldly practical reality that a perfect moral person could never be crucified as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world…because it would be socially and culturally impossible to get such a perfect person all the way to the utter rejection of the cross on Calvary Hill…unless they were for starters the most commonplace of persons according to outward appearances…according to worldly conventional status.

            How do you get a perfectly sinless, blemish-free Lamb of God person all the way to the cross at Calvary?

            The story of the life of Jesus Christ is real…because it cannot be human literary fiction…because it is too worldly unconventional.

            The story of Jesus not only requires targeted script-writing of unimaginably insightful creative invention, but also the wherewithal to actually pull it off…to not merely talk-the-talk on paper…but to walk-the-walk in concrete reality in our modern first-century…within a singular life-script that even manages to challenge God Himself in the divinely exclusive area of perfect God-sovereignty…a concept that no human writer could or would invent.

            The brilliance of God here is seen in the journey of faith life-script for Jesus…based upon perfect trust, perfect integrity, and perfect truth…contrasted with the disastrous end-point product of the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes in first-century Jerusalem, their actions being the direct result of crafting our own individual life-script programs according to the self-performance of good-works, of attempting to earn our way to heaven, the exact opposite of the life-story of Abraham justified by faith (Rom. 4:3).

            On the night before His crucifixion…in the Garden of Gethsemane…Jesus reveals the free-will difficulty of staying perfectly within God-sovereignty when He says: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Lk. 22:42).

            If Jesus deviates even a hair’s breadth from His life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, and says this is too difficult as originally planned and that He is going His own way in search of an easier and less costly salvation method than the cross…then the unity of God-sovereignty within the Trinity of the Godhead would have been broken for the first time in eternity.

            Here God is not only revealing something personal about Himself, but He is telling us one of the most profoundly amazing facts in all of eternity…that He can compose a thrilling and suspense-filled final chapter for the life of Jesus Christ on earth…that manages to challenge Himself in the precise area of God-sovereignty that we will have the most trouble with.

            God is telling us here, that not only is Jesus Christ taking upon Himself the sins of the world…on the cross…but that the life-script for Jesus composed by God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), intentionally factors-in Gethsemane and Calvary.

            The life-script for Jesus contains the unimaginable feature that God can now personally relate to our understandably human struggle to make the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty…a new and novel experience set-up for the divine Son of God living as a human person on earth, the perfect and indivisible God-sovereignty that as the Son of God in heaven comes naturally to Him and is otherwise unchallenged and untested in that environment.  

            The enormous range and breadth of character for God to “stoop to conquer” sin displayed in the super-humility of Jesus Christ suffering through the demeaning rejection of Roman crucifixion in Jerusalem…on our behalf…displays the diametric opposite quality of being “petty” according to Richard Dawkins, on a scale of mistaken judgment that is so off-base and misguided as to be beyond adequate description

            The disrespect of the current group of New Atheists towards the life and ministry of Jesus Christ…shows a shallow quality of lazy scholarship…an unwillingness to even attempt to dig deeper, to think through and understand the opposing viewpoint.

            If human sin…imperfection of character…cannot be pushed aside as being the mere product of the partially incomplete development of Darwinian evolution, but instead is so important as to require the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God as a human person, this raises the incarnation, life, and ministry of Jesus up into the seriousness of a life-and-death issue…now and for all-time.

            This then requires the most earnestly sober consideration and analysis, worthy of a dignified and proper investigation.

            Some people have called the life of Jesus “the greatest story ever told”…but the worldviews of philosophical materialists like Richard Dawkins relegate human sin…imperfect character…to merely be the work-in-progress actions of matter and energy, according to the tenets of Darwinian evolution…no other viewpoint being open to atheism.

            This worldview enables philosophical materialists to devalue sin as being natural and unimportant, and thereby devalue the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ again as being “petty.”

            Self-righteousness is one of the few character traits within the broad array of moral concepts…that is unsolvable…that is unfixable…because it pushes-out the ability to recognize our shortcomings that produces regret, that in turn can produce genuine and actionable humility.

Without humility we cannot exercise empathy towards other people (Mt. 9:10-13; Lk. 16:15; Jn. 5:44).

            At the cross on Calvary Hill…God introduces Himself to us at the most intimate level…telling us something deeply personal not only about Himself, but also about the way to discovering genuine truth.

            The Intelligent Designer of the grandeur of the physical universe is telling us that He is up to the character challenge of playing the role of the lowest level of selfless humility, when it is in the service and cause of goodness, truth, and self-sacrificing love…a character trait I judge as being the least petty thing imaginable.

            Regarding self-righteousness…why was Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God (Jn. 1:1-3) in the New Testament gospels, continually butting heads with the biblical interpretations, rituals, practices, and attitudes of the Pharisees and scribes (Mt. 5:20, 22, 28, 34, 39, 44, 6:5, 16, 7:29, 9:11, 11:16-19, 12:1-8, 9-13, 14, 24, 38, 15:2, 16:12, 17:22-23, 19:3; Lk. 11:42-44, 52, 12:1; Jn. 7:19, 24, 8:19, 39-40)…while as the Creator of everyone and everything (Jn. 1:3) He freely interacted with them in open dialogue throughout His ministry and outreach to the world?

            The Pharisees and scribes crafted their own revised version of the faith of Abraham and the law of Moses, putting in place their own system of rituals and practices, briefly listed above, that were achievable through the alternative program of the self-effort of self-realization rather than faith…a form of self-salvation through the performance of good-works, and thus placing themselves in direct conflict with Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God and the chief architect of the very Judaic religion they professed to follow. 

            In a genuine biblical-quality journey of faith…starting with the detailed life-script of Abraham…God displaces our ways with His higher ways, in the process automatically removing any pretense on our part to gloat over self-achievement…in the process removing any portion of the God-composed life-script storyline to degenerate into the negative pride of self-righteousness.

            By contrast…in a journey of selfbased upon the performance of good-works, we actually displace God’s ways with our ways, opening wide the gate to invite-in the erroneous, worldly standard for self-evaluation that with some limited measure of “success” easily morphs into pride-filled self-righteousness…of “look at me how good I am.”

            The performance of the many religious rituals and practices the Pharisees and scribes manufactured to afford them a false standard by which to judge themselves…which fell far outside the bounds of the faith of Abraham or the law of Moses…translates today into the secular variation of similarly displacing God’s ways with our ways, this time using the seemingly more sophisticated, human-manufactured worldview of naturalistic materialism that is primarily based upon Darwinian evolution…in place of the good-works program of the Pharisees and scribes. 

            When self-righteousness pushes-out our capacity to recognize that we are all sinners in universal standing before God…are imperfect beings needing the turn-about of regret and repentance in order to purchase the humility that will accept a reconnection back to God, and a heart-felt desire to allow God to introduce Himself to us through the personal relationship of a life-journey of faith, this debilitating character trait of self-righteousness becomes the hallmark…the epitome…of using self-invented worldview programs as the excuse for unbelief, of going our own way apart from God.

            Both Pharisee-ism in the first-century…and Darwinism today…share the same character trait of self-righteousness, inserting their own worldview system, either through the self-salvation performance of good-works, or by the elimination of sin chalked-up to the progressive development of incomplete Darwinian evolution.

            What is sad from the viewpoint of Spirit-born Christians is that the Pharisees and scribes in the first-century, and people like the New Atheists today…were then and are presently now living within a false sense of security.

            False worldviews generate a false sense of security, and God cares enough about us to introduce Himself in person to mankind, and to separate and divide out for us the right way to go in life (Jn. 1:1-14, 11:25, 14:6).

            Staying with this essay a little bit longer…because the issues are so important…the question can be asked: Why didn’t Jesus choose a few of the religious elites in Jerusalem to be among His apostles and disciples, during His ministry?

            The simple answer is that the character trait of self-righteousness is unsolvable, is unfixable, because it takes-up the space exactly where repentance occurs…pushing-out the ability to have an about-face, turn-around change of mind and heart regarding accepting Jesus Christ.

            The Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem come out to the Jordan River to see what John the Baptist is doing.

            John sees right through them, saying in Matthew 3:7-10:

7 O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits befitting for repentance.

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

            Some of these same hard-core men were still in the Sanhedrin Council decades later when Paul stands before them on his last visit to Jerusalem…men Paul knew well when he was a Pharisee (Acts 22:30; 23:6, 26:5).

            It took no less than a blinding light from heaven to convert Paul (Acts 9:3)…a special calling and a unique variation of the Great Commission coming from Jesus Christ Himself.

            If Paul, a highly educated Pharisee, was going to have the required empathy to take the Christian gospel message to the pagan, polytheistic, and idol-worshipping Greco-Roman world…he was going to need a large dose of humility obtained through the discovery that he was completely wrong about the status of Jesus of Nazareth…thereby displacing the self-righteousness he shared with his colleagues in the Sanhedrin Council, up until that fateful moment on the road to Damascus.

            John the Baptist imprisoned by Herod, has some difficulty with the adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the established leaders in Jerusalem, justifiably assuming that Jesus by then would be in the process of literally fulfilling Isaiah 9:6-7 in this First Advent.

            Mary the mother of Jesus appears to have profound confusion over this same adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the religious leaders…men she would normally admire and respect…regarding the divine status of her son Jesus, which she is acutely and intimately aware of better than anyone, other than Jesus Himself.

            When Jesus begins to tell His disciples about His upcoming arrest, mistreatment, death, and resurrection (Mt. 16:21-22)…Peter emphatically objects, saying: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee”…unable to accept the inevitable negative outcome that would occur when radically pride-filled self-righteousness collides with the low worldly status of being considered petty…in the case of Jesus brilliantly camouflaging His true identity.

            In the account of the Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:1-11)…the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 is fulfilled: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon the foal of an ass.” (Italics and bold mine).

            Jesus moderates the impact of everything He does…because He must maintain a perfectly fine-tuned balance so as to remain within the low worldly status of being able to be rejected and crucified (Ps 22; Isa. 53).

            The life-script of Jesus Christ walks this line perfectly, and is a compelling evidence for it being real.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ aims at the very thing that offends Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists…the divine capacity to be able to “stoop to conquer” sin being beneath the dignity of a supposed creator god of the universe, but therein introducing to us a personal character trait of God that is amazing to contemplate…yet is incomprehensible and inaccessible to Darwinists.

            To get a perfect person Jesus Christ all the way to the cross of Calvary, at this one point in time in human history to qualify as the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin, requires a rare mixture of the easily offended self-righteousness in His critics, and the low worldly status of His outward appearance of being petty (Isa. 53:1-6)…both positioned at the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum graph-line of humility and not moderated toward a compromised and more reasonable center.

            The scenario presented here is light-years beyond any Darwinian program to produce human beings as mere hunters and gatherers…and far beyond the literary imagination of human fictional mythology.

            The life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ inspire the most earnestly sober consideration…and the most dignified and proper analysis…because His story cannot be anything other than genuinely real.

Why Would God Become a Human Person?

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”                                                                                                 (Isa. 9:6)

            In the 2009 Oxford debate[1] between the atheist paleontologist Richard Dawkins and the Christian mathematician John Lennox, both PhD scientists and Oxford college professors, entitled Has Science Buried God?…Richard Dawkins makes the statement that in comparison to the exquisite grandeur of the universe, the idea that God would become a human person and then be crucified and resurrected from the dead, is petty, trivial, local, earthbound, small-minded, and unworthy of the universe…combining some other descriptive terms Dawkins used from their earlier 2008 debate in Alabama.

            The biblical account of the virgin birth, turning water into wine, walking on water, the substitutionary atoning sacrifice on the cross for human sin, and being raised three days later from the dead…to the thinking of Richard Dawkins this is not only incredulous as to the facts, but is also beneath the dignity of the creator god of the universe, if it could be shown scientifically that there is one.

            John Lennox gives the brilliant response, in my opinion, that if he could do an MRI scan of the brain of Richard Dawkins, the purely mechanical and materialistic nature of the imaging data generated from a brain scan, would not extend to the point of revealing any information as to who Dawkins is as a person…as a unique personality. 

            The material molecules of the mind/brain of Richard Dawkins will not tell us what he thinks, what he believes, what he loves, his sense of humor, the qualities he admires in other people, and what are the innermost dreams and aspirations that motivate the course of his life. 

            An MRI brain scan will not give us any information about the core values of a person, being limited in the scope of its investigative reach.

            John Lennox then looks directly across at Richard Dawkins and offers the insightful comment: “I can only get to know you if you tell me about yourself”…a truism that every person on the planet can understand and relate to.

            This gives us a definitive start to answering the question of why God would become a human person, why He would enter into human history, and why He would introduce Himself to the world “in the flesh” as a personal someone rather than as an impersonal something…rather thanas a mere abstract concept to follow (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7, 53:5-6; Jn. 3:14-21, 9:39-41, 15:22-25).

            We can learn through scientific investigation all about the physical aspects of the natural world, that give us a very good and full picture of the technical competence of the Intelligent Designer God as a craftsman…but this cannot reveal to us who God is as an individually unique person…as a personality.

            The theme of this essay is that the biblical narrative stories of faith record God’s signature way of introducing Himself to people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Peter, and Paul…and down through the centuries to the world at large…but especially through the life and ministry of the Son of God Jesus Christ.

            God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, for Christian disciples today are the precisely fine-tuned and highly specified  contexts of life events and circumstances in which we can individually get to know God on a personal level (Jn. 14:9)…the divinely authorized method of proper introduction through which God can tell us about Himself.

            We can get to know God, as our experienced, competent, and personal Tour-Guide in life, through the events and circumstances of a journey of faith, because Jesus Christ the Son of God actualized in His own life a journey of faith to perfection…going out ahead of us along this dynamic, living way of faith and trust in God, thereby qualifying Himself for all eternity to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), for all human beings.

            Jesus goes before us in a journey of faith in a human body…exemplifying how perfect God-sovereignty operates in a human life…so that He could justifiably ask us also to “pick up our cross” (Mk. 8:34-35) and follow Him along this same route of committed faith and trust in Him to show us the way in our own life-scripts…to make the difficult transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty that is the unique hallmark of biblical faith.

            Jesus Christ steps into a risked-filled journey of faith, becoming incarnated into a human body (Isa. 9:6; Lk. 1:35), putting everything on-the-line so that He could qualify as the sinless, blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice through the cross at Calvary, amidst the most adverse and perilous challenges (Isa. 53; Lk. 22:42).

            The life of Jesus leading up to the sacrifice on the cross, of divinely perfect moral character and truth, must be acceptable to God the Father to the degree that Jesus could then justifiably be worthy to be resurrected from the dead…being three days in a rock covered tomb in the city of Jerusalem…death being something never previously experienced by one of the three members of the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            Jesus Christ the divinely perfect Son of God offering Himself in our place, for our offences, justifiably enables Jesus to extend to us an unconditional pardon in that He has paid in full the penalty that ultimate justice demands in a Godly universe of truth and right living.

            This is why God became a person through the incarnation of the Son of God Jesus Christ…through the virgin Mary giving birth to her first-born child Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem…accompanied by Joseph her new husband, the inns in the city all being full, beginning an extraordinary story of divine character blended with radical humility throughout the life of Jesus extending all the way to Calvary, that no human literary genius could or would ever invent as fiction.

            What will be repeated a few other places in different essays in this book, is that the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross covers the sins past, present, and future for believers.

            When I became a born-again Christian at age 18 in 1970…I was not instantly transformed into a morally perfect person…of being incapable of making mistakes, poor decisions, or exhibiting less than perfect character from that time onward.

            For the Christian disciples after Pentecost recorded in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit descended upon each of them in the form of tongues of fire, they also were not instantly transformed into morally perfect people.

            The package of salvation through Jesus Christ creates a new life of discipleship that does not include moral perfection.

            But what turns the world upside-down once we see and understand this in the biblical narrative stories of faith and in our journeys of faith today…is that God is able to shape and channel our imperfect nature into the best imaginable vehicle to venture out into this broken world to investigate the knowledge of good and evil…through a journey of faith having the impunity of a full advance pardon upfront, removing the risk of losing our salvation as a result of our poor performances along the way…of falling at times far short of perfection in our thoughts, actions, and exercise of faith.

            God imputes to us through Jesus Christ…by grace through faith…the righteousness that we lack, so that we can embark on a God-guided and sanctioned journey of discovery into the knowledge of good and evil, through a mission-plan that also provides service to others.

            God covering my sins past, present, and future allows me to enter into a risk-filled journey of faith following Jesus Christ…with the confidence that this imperfect nature I inhabit creates the context for me to explore the knowledge of good and evil…in exactly the way God intended two-thousand years ago through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:15-8:1-4). 

            This is a brilliant biblical concept that serves as the solid foundation upon which to confidently build an unshakable worldview (Mt. 7:24-27; Rom. 35-39).

            In Matthew 5:6 in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not say blessed are the morally perfect, but blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.

            A person who has attained moral perfection does not hunger and thirst after righteousness.  They already are righteous. 

            The timeless quality of God’s creative ingenuity is exhibited here in crafting a program of salvation by grace through faith…to anticipate ahead of time the insightful use of imperfect human character, redeemed and forgiven through faith in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the very means to be the remedy and the antidote to the otherwise destructive sin in our lives…to brilliantly flip imperfection into an investigative vehicle of exploration.

            That the cross and the resurrection allows us to step into individualized journeys of faith research programs into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…with impunity and without the risk of condemnation (Rom. 8:1)…being justified by faith in Christ…this falls on the opposite end of the spectrum-line of ultimate purpose and meaningful foresight from Richard Dawkins’ characterization of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of the divine Son of God Jesus Christ…of being “petty” and therefore not worth serious consideration.   

A personal Jesus Christ is accessible

            In the New Testament gospels, Jesus reveals Himself to us in terms we can understand, at a level we can comprehend, because we are persons and Jesus became a person…a human being like us. 

            Jesus becoming a man puts the Son of God in a form we can relate to…and creates the opportunity to get to know Him on a personal, more intimate basis, which on the surface would be something that would and should seem to be out of reach.

            We can read the biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington, and we can learn details and facts about them, but we can never get to know them on a first-hand, personal basis from a book.

            Jesus Christ raised from the dead enables us to know God on a personal basis today…and for all eternity…because He is alive and reachable today in the Spirit.

            This is the eternally accessible part of God…that Jesus is telling His disciples about in John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Holy Spirit will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

            Jesus here is telling His disciples that the time has come for them to make the transition to getting to know God through His Holy Spirit, which will soon become the universal experience for all New Covenant Christian believers…being guided into all truth (Jn. 16:13) through a journey of faith…building a personal relationship with the living God that is not possible to have with the now dead and buried Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, or George Washington.

            A mere biography about an inaccessible and non-relatable God will not produce an intimate personal relationship.

            What is also important here is that the pettiness to Richard Dawkins of Jesus Christ the Son of God becoming an insignificant human person on the same level like the rest of us…in comparison to the vast grandeur of the universe…actually highlights a personal trait about the character of God that could not be demonstrated any other way.

            Through the life of Jesus Christ, God is telling us something that is immensely important about Himself…as to who He is as a person…that is astounding in its sword-edge splitting assessment of empathy contained within humility.

            The current group of New Atheists in this 21st-century who write books critical of God and faith…and debate Christians in public forums over these issues…universally display a form of arrogance that is a product of their atheistic worldview, a worldview possessing the humanistic allowance of built-in self-forgiveness, of having no recognition of sin as a fault, of experiencing no regret leading to repentance before God…in short, of exhibiting self-righteousness, of having an over-inflated self-opinion.

            Of course philosophical materialists would “naturally” prefer atheism as their worldview…but not for the high-minded intellectual reasons they put forward…but instead because this allows them to interpret their imperfection of character as a product of Darwinian progressive evolution, thereby producing no fault on their part, and no introspective cause for regret.

            Interpreted this way, human sin is conveniently cloaked within a naturalistic imperfection of flawed character…to be theoretically remedied in the distant future through the continued Darwinian progression of random mutation and natural selection. 

            This philosophically short-circuits entrance into a God-composed journey of faith life-script designed to utilize our imperfect character as the lens through which to understand good and evil…starting with faith that produces humility that generates empathy, the ingredients needed to unravel the knowledge of good and evil, the very same attributes the humble worldly status of Jesus actualizes into reality in the four New Testament gospels.

            If our brains/minds are merely the product of random and undirected natural processes…how much more ongoing discord, chaos, and warfare do we need to experience before the atheistic version of mutation/selection works its hypothetical magic…to perfect for human beings in the future a more fully developed adaptation to our moral environment?

            The biblical concept of God becoming a human being in the person of Jesus Christ…to be the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin, opening up a new and living way into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil without the risk of jeopardizing our eternal salvation, while still being morally imperfect but hungering and thirsting after righteousness…is immeasurably superior in terms of truth, hope, and purpose…to the random and undirected, survival-of-the-fittest program of Darwinian evolution.


[1] John Lennox and Richard Dawkins: Has Science Buried God debate at Oxford 2009, hosted by the Fixed Point Foundation, on You Tube.

The Perfect Savior

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”                                            (Heb. 4:15)

            In all of the accounts of the intense opposition from the religious and political leaders the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers that Jesus responds to as recorded in the four New Testament gospels, in His miraculous healing of the blind and the lame, of preaching to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, and in His personal interactions with His disciples and the common people, we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes and traits of virtue in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah (Isa. 11:1-5, 35:1-8).

            We see truth, honesty, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and uncompromising courage, to name a few positive attributes that give Jesus a grade of A-plus, of perfect 100-percent test scores across-the-board within the broad array of moral concepts we can use as standards for judgment.

            We can agree with Pilate the Roman governor in Jerusalem after examining Jesus: “I find in him no fault at all.” (Jn. 18:38).

            But what we do not clearly see in hindsight in first-century Jerusalem during the time of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth…is why the Passover had no connection with the Old Testament Judaic conception of the coming Messiah.

            How is it that nearly everyone in and around A.D. 27 in Israel were looking hopefully and expectantly for a Joshua or King David type warrior/priest as Messiah who would expel the loathsome Romans out of their country as had occurred with numerous other enemy invaders in their past national history, and fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of 9:6-7 of God setting-up His eternal kingdom in Jerusalem?  

            No one expected the coming Messiah to also be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins, according to the obscure and little understood scriptural passages of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

            This is where God’s ways and our ways sharply divide, differentiating the life-script for Jesus Christ as being above and beyond human literary invention…lifting the biblical narrative above other contemporary worldview narratives in today’s modern marketplace of ideas.

            But the one area where we can with solid confidence through the benefit of hindsight today conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection, above anything that any other human being has ever been able to achieve, is that Jesus Christ is living-out His God-composed life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin to the outer limits of absolute perfection…unbeknownst to the popular expectation of a soon-coming military and political deliverer/messiah in conformity with past Jewish history.

            The life-script mission of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God would require perfect adherence without any gaps of inconsistency to the uniquely biblical, moral concept of God-sovereignty, Himself being the Second Person of the Trinity, which would be humanly impossible for anyone other than the messianic God/man Jesus Christ to actualize.

            Every positive person of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, other than Jesus Christ, have God-composed life-scripts that take into account built-in allowances for human error (Rom. 4:6-8).

            All of these positive people of faith are nonetheless morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous…are morally imperfect like the rest of us in the many categories of the broad array of moral concepts, but also in their inability to perfectly follow-through within their God-composed life-scripts without stumbling and bumbling at certain points along the way…in pursuit of their divinely created callings and destinies.

            If the biblical narrative stories of faith can be described as God’s attempt to give us something of Himself, to enable us to experience first-hand the expression in-and-through-us of some portion of His divine character as actualized through the events of God-composed life-script storylines…we can also see that this extraordinary program entails our imperfect performance.

            Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther and Mordecai, Ruth, Hannah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…none of these people are morally perfect and sinless. 

            Their life-scripts are based upon Holy Spirit empowered grace-through-faith, and proceed according to their individually exceptional gifts and abilities, plus the creative imagination of God their Creator as life-script Writer.

            These biblical life-scripts are not based upon the self-realization of autonomous individualism built upon the attempt to save ourselves through the self-performance of good-works…that as entirely human-driven and human-directedwould and must fall far short of moral perfection and sinless virtue.

            But the God-composed life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God intentionally exploits and utilizes to the fullest His uniquely divine nature to the maximum extent to be able to perfectly succeed in the one area wherein God knows we will have the most difficulty.

            This is the area that is the definition of sin and that the cross on Calvary Hill focuses upon…the area of God-sovereignty versus self-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives compared instead to going our own way in shortsighted self-rulership (Isa. 53:6).

            God singles-out and highlights this key element within the broad array of moral concepts, honestly and candidly revealed in the difficulty that Jesus has in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion.

            Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46 record that in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of His arrest and preliminary trial, that Jesus asked His disciples to “watch and pray”…that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful”…that He received the assistance from an angel from heaven to strengthen Him…that He went back a second time to “pray more earnestly”…and that He sweat “great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

            The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself, for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body that manages to challenge Himself in the one humanly unreachable zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue, of making perfect choices and doing the right thing every time.

            Yet this humanly unreachable zone is still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning…in the above-this-world, unconventionally divine test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane of God-sovereignty consistent, unified, and indivisible within God Himself…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

            If Jesus does not say in perfect faith without skipping a beat: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”…but instead decides to go in another direction other than the cross the next day, at that precise moment in time God-sovereignty would have been split in two…introducing autonomous individual rebellion into the God-head of the Trinity…Jesus the Son of God going His own way apart from the Father and away from His ancient destiny as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).

            This unprecedented development of the testing of divinely sinless unity-of-purpose consistent between God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, of unerring fidelity to the one right course of action no matter how difficult it is or how high the cost in the Garden of Gethsemane and Calvary the next day…separates-out God-sovereignty as the most important and the highest of issues in all of reality…the top-shelf “queen” of the virtues.

            All of the other moral concepts and virtues are secondarily derivative to the primary concept of God-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives rather than going our own way as autonomous independent agents (Isa. 53:5-6).

            The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is not just to improve our moral performance in the areas of honesty, integrity, tolerance, and the capacity for unselfish love…because the ancient goal, the prime target, the foremost primary reason for the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice is to focus and home-in on the remedy and removal of sin. 

            When I became a Spirit-born Christian at age 18 in 1970, I was not instantly transformed into a morally perfect person, possessing sinless virtue incapable of making any mistakes from that time forward.

            After the resurrection of Jesus Christ and after the Day of Pentecost the early church Christians went out into the Greco-Roman world with the Great Commission gospel message that eventually conquered the world…yet they do so while inhabiting imperfect virtue and fallen yet redeemed natures.

            I have never heard anyone ask the question why this is so…why salvation through Christ does not instantly produce inner perfect virtue and flawless character.

            Why would it be the case throughout the Old and New Testament journeys of faith life-scripts of Abraham (not discounting Enoch and Noah) through Paul…that God works His “magic” of blessing mankind through people having imperfect characters?

            The answer is that God uses His divinely timeless foresight matched with the creative insight of being an ingenious master strategist…to be able to turn mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden into a positive.

            This is a profoundly unexpected validation of the brilliance of God in keeping with the fine-tuning of the physics in the universe and the nanotechnology of the molecular machinery we now discover in living cells.

            We were simply outwitted in the Garden of Eden…ill-equipped to divide and parse genuine truth from cleverly disguised misinformation (Gen. 3:1-6). 

            I was outwitted by the strong pull of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…in choosing to go the culturally acceptable wrong way of humanistic self-sovereignty…of trying to self-validate my worth and value through personal achievements, until I was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.      

            The God of the Bible is so brilliant He can take the imperfection of human beings and in an instant of time flip this into a positive asset…into the high-quality of the perfect vehicle of a fallen nature that can take us through an in-depth research program into the knowledge of good and evil…without which we would not only be unable to decipher and understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts involved, but which also places believers in the sweet-spot of humility regarding the flawed nature of this human vehicle that precludes self-inflated and pride-filled self-righteousness, the very character trait that kills the ability to take the salvation message of the gospel out to the world-at-large in the spirit of love (Jn. 15:13).

            The blood that Jesus shed on the cross at Calvary covers my sins past, present, and future.

            This enables me to step-into a risk-filled adventure of faith following the God of the Bible…in which I am certain I will make many mistakes along the way, but absent the threat that I can jeopardize my eternal salvation as a result of my imperfect performance.

            The God of the Bible is so brilliant that He has proactively crafted the redemption through the cross and resurrection of Christ so as to provide impunity from the condemnation that should accrue through my blunders and mistakes…for the precise purpose of guaranteeing a safe passage and a safe-conduct through the God-composed journey of faith life-script He has written for me…so that I can experience a first-person exploration of the knowledge of good and evil, within the God-sanctioned and approved vehicle of an imperfect moral nature (Rom. 7:15-8:4).

            Atheists criticize Christians for not being perfect…but we are not supposed to be perfect…just better than we were.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”                                                                                            (2 Cor. 4:7)

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”                                                                 (Jn. 8:36)           

            The only way we could discover and understand the knowledge of good and evil is for us to take it out for a sanctioned and authorized test-drive…within the vehicle of a redeemed yet fallen imperfect nature.

            The hypothesis that the God of the Bible is trustworthy, truthful, loving, has own best interests at heart, and that we can know Him on a personal basis…is something that can be tested and found to be either true or false.

            A God-composed journey of faith life-script having the upfront impunity of redemptive salvation leads to factual findings that are as empirical as it gets…being in importance far above the findings of modern science into the workings of the natural world.

            God has set-up a program within the context of this life wherein we can for ourselves…with His help…verify the truths and falsehoods contained within a tried and tested knowledge of good and evil, with the additional ingenious feature that we are the ones who are the mouthpieces used to spread these findings about God to other people, rather than this coming from God directly in the form of authoritatively writing this across the sky in fiery red letters.

            This reality could never come from a purely naturalistic universe of matter and energy alone, and it is beyond the literary creative imagination of human invented mythology.

            The idea that God could and would flip our imperfect moral natures into the microscopic and telescopic lens needed to see into the mysteries of the knowledge of good and evil…while engaged within a God-guided journey of faith that also infuses more virtue and goodness into our characters through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13) through mission-plans designed to help other people entailing some measure of cost and sacrifice to ourselves…answers in large part the fundamental question of the purpose of this life and why we are here.

            Only the real living God could set this all up.

            In The Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5:6, Jesus does not say blessed are the morally perfect, but “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (bold and italics mine).

            By becoming born-again (Jn. 3:5-6, 10), the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments are given new spiritual hearts and minds that can comprehend the knowledge of good and evil, while still inhabiting imperfect characters, through the deliberate preplanning and foreknowledge of God (Prov. 3:5-6; Isa. 55:8-9; Jer. 29:11; Eph. 1:7, 2:8-10; 5:8).

            This is one of the many reasons why the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ are the most important events in all of history…far above Jesus as Messiah expelling the Romans from Israel in the first-century.

            If God Himself is not internally consistent in this fundamental moral concept of freely choosing God-sovereignty over self-sovereignty…in Gethsemane and at Calvary…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…then justifiably God could not ask us to make the difficult, Holy Spirit assisted transition from self-sovereignty toGod-sovereignty in the course of our lives (Jn. 3:14-21).

            This is the fundamental issue under consideration for all human beings, and the God of the Bible is telling us through the life-script of Jesus Christ that He was willing and able to get out in front of us in this regard of the bond of unity…tested within a human life incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God…within the personal interrelationships of the Trinity.

            This is why Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life…and why there is no other way to come to the Father except through Him (paraphrased from John 14:6)…because Jesus is the perfect bridge of God-sovereignty that connects us in the right way within a personal walk with God in our own lives.  

            Without freely allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 46:9-10; Jn. 12:24)…to achieve in some measure in our lives this same divine unity-of-purpose (Jn. 17:21), after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith, then God cannot flip our imperfect natures into the fully redeemed, 4-wheel drive vehicles to venture-out into empirical research programs of lessons-learned traversing through the rough terrain of the knowledge of good and evil in a fallen world.

            God identifies for us in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus Christ is operating at the apex, at the highest pinnacle of morality and virtue, when God reveals with incredible honesty and candor His own difficulty at the far outer-edge of virtuosity…the unique and singular challenge in all of time past, present, and going forward into eternity of offering Himself as the loving sacrifice for our sins.

            This unbroken fidelity to God-sovereignty restores our severed relationship with Him on the highest terms of true and right justice yet at the greatest cost to Himself…the cost of the unprecedented death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection three days later.

            Because this entire scenario of truth, challenge, and drama soars far above the capacity of human literary fictional invention, in my opinion this answers the question of how we would know today with certainty that Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins, being morally perfect and having sinless virtue…and qualify as the Messiah in the first-century and now.

            A popular defense of the Bible and Christianity should start at some point with the biblical uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, paramount in importance and at the very zenith within the broad array of moral concepts.

            Other than being an embarrassment to Jews worldwide today, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin as a Jew in the first-century…as the Messianic Savior by grace through faith for Jews and Gentiles alike…should be a source of the deepest and most heartfelt commendable pride.

            A book written on the biblical narrative in competition with rival worldviews in the modern marketplace of ideas, can at the outset identify a categorical difference of enormous importance between the traditional Christian doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…and the entirely contrary view of the other world religions of salvation achieved through the self-performance of good-works, of achieving a “good life” on our own and then putting our faith and trust in a god who will judge this self-effort satisfactory enough to approve our admittance into the after-life.

            This concept of our redeemed fallen nature as the God-sanctioned and authorized vehicle in which to conduct a first-hand exploration of the knowledge of good and evil in a likewise fallen and broken world, is in my opinion, not a new biblical doctrine or interpretation.

            This concept is staring us in the face in the biblical narrative stories of faith, and is integral within the idea of actualized faith placed in the real and living God in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible (Rom. 4:1-8).

            Entering into a God-composed journey of faith life-script within the redeemed vehicle of imperfect moral character adds another key piece to the puzzle of the fundamental questions of why we are here and who is the real God?

            I became a Spirit-born Christian at age 18…but then so what…what comes next?  What is so earth-shattering about that?

            The point is that the vehicle of a fallen nature as the perfect lens to be able to explore a fallen world opens up the entire panoply of the meaning and purpose of human life…no matter what are my individual talents, abilities, or faults…no matter where is my “port of entry” into a journey of faith.

            We see this in the biblical narrative stories of faith having exceptional purpose and directional trajectory…in direct opposition to the competing worldviews of the other world religions to find our own salvation through self-realization, but also in direct opposition to the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism that asserts that purpose and meaning do not exist at all in our universe.

            The grandest irony of ironies is that we can only inhabit this God-sanctioned and authorized vehicle of a fully redeemed and forgiven fallen nature, in order to venture-out into the individual destinies of our research programs to discover the real meaning and purposes within the knowledge of good and evil…we can only do this by first admitting that we are in fact fallen and that we are imperfect moral beings.

            In the words of Jesus: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 4:17), shouts-out this message to the world having the highest of intentions imaginable…coming from the one Person capable of making this reality possible.  

            When confronted by the Pharisees who asked the disciples: “Why eateth your Master with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mt. 9:11)…Jesus answers in Matthew 9:12-13:

12 They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

            The massive gulf between “going about to establish their own righteousness” (Rom. 10:3) and the redemptive salvation of grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) through the repentance of admitting that we are fallen and in need of saving, is spoken by Jesus Christ in no uncertain terms to the Pharisees: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24).   

            Christianity is the one place in all of human existence where it is okay to be not okay.

            A broken life is the reality to be honestly acknowledged and faced foursquare…not something to whitewash (Mt. 23:27) or sugar-coat.

            The God of the Bible is the only person in the universe who honestly knows about sin and does not sweep it under the table, but does something remarkable about it.

            God is telling us that He has life-scripts for us that actually and counterintuitively factor-in our fallen nature.

            If we currently have broken and ruined lives this is no problem for God to cleanup, redeem, and insert a course-correction that sets us going in the right way.

            This is why Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners, because they can readily admit that they are fallen and need God.

            Arrogant pride and self-inflated self-importance will not accept or admit a fallen and imperfect nature, and thereby closes off entrance into the God-sanctioned and authorized vehicle of a redeemed fallen nature to really learn about the knowledge of good and evil…through a similar quality of the unity-of-purpose Jesus exhibited in His own life-script…likewise actualized for us in our God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            One caveat here is that Paul and Peter warn believers not to use this freedom as an excuse or license to willfully sin (Rom. 6:1; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16).

The biblical narrative has purpose, meaning, and hope fueled by God’s divine participation

            God-composed life-scripts for the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…eventually over time lift these people up into the victorious positions of becoming overcomers (1 Pet. 5:10), but not in the worldly conventional sense of self-validation and worldly pride that is centered upon oneself.

            God’s elevation of people into high positions…Abraham the “father of faith,” Joseph the governor of Egypt, Moses the great prophet and deliverer, Joshua the military leader, the Israelites conquering their homeland, Peter the leader of the early Christian church, and Paul the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world, to name a few, are for unselfish service to other people and not for self-validation and personal achievement.

            God-composed life-scripts in the biblical narrative stories of faith are designed to fix things to the most radical extent required, at all costs, at the micro-level in the moment…and at the macro-level over the long-range duration of human redemptive history extending into eternity.

            The biblical narrative stories of faith are about enabling God to set-up and manage a program throughout human redemptive history that allows God to actualize events and circumstances into reality…to fix our world and our lives…from the viewpoint of eternity (1 Jn. 2:17).

            This is an elevated program that will run above and often contrary to the culturally accepted direction of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Mt. 5:3-12, 6:25-34).

            This element of elevated unconventionality explains Abraham waiting in faith for the birth of Isaac, Joseph’s unusual MBA preparation in the house of Potiphar and the prison of Pharaoh, the Israelites in bondage in Egypt, and the advance preparation of Moses as a shepherd of sheep in Midian.

            It explains David being pursued for his life by the jealous King Saul, Peter utterly failing in the courtyard of Caiaphas during the night trial of Jesus, and the incredible conversion of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus creating the radical humility needed for a highly educated Pharisee to take the gospel message that Jesus is the Messiah to the larger Greco-Roman world…without looking down his nose in disdain at the polytheistic, idol-worshipping, pagan Greeks and Romans of his day. 

            These are the scenarios composed by God to fix our world and the problem of sin in our lives from an eternal perspective.

            The brilliantly creative capacity of God to get His arms around the vast stretch of human experience…of Jesus maintaining consistent fidelity to God-sovereignty in the midst of the lowest failure and the highest success… allows every person of faith that accepts Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Tour Guide through this life…to get to know God personally from the least to the greatest.

            This reality for human life was prophesied roughly 2,600 years ago by the prophet Jeremiah in anticipation of new covenant believers (Jer. 31:31-34) not offended by Jesus on the cross, all energized by God-sovereignty rather than being fueled by the pursuit of individual achievement according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

            The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were in service to mankind at the peak and pinnacle of moral perfection, the purest essence of virtue.

            The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were and are radical measures in the extreme designed by God to fix the human problem of sin, fundamentally defined as going our own way in autonomous individualism.

            God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith, creating similar unity-of-purpose partnerships between God and people, is the antidote to the individual autonomous rebellion of going our own way.

            When this uniquely biblical reality is separated-out and highlighted from amongst the broad array of existing moral concepts, this provides a compelling basis for accepting Jesus Christ into our lives, for accepting a God-composed journey of faith applied and interwoven into the course of events in our lives.

            This humanly inconceivable, acid-test of the consistency of God-sovereignty within the Trinity, faithfully and seamlessly exhibited by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary Hill…also actualizes within the biblical narrative stories of faith and actualizes within the God-composed life-scripts for Spirit-born Christians today.

            This validates the Christian argument that the Bible cannot be the creative invention of human literary imagination.

            This also provides us with a huge revelation…a unique and innovative insight…of The Biblical Narrative in a Modern World.