Our Stubborn Will and Way 1

The most guarded and treasured possession to humans…our autonomous, self-directed will-and-way…the control over our lives…in a journey of faith is crucified alongside Jesus to create the space for God to insert a new life-script (Gal. 2:20).

The one and only life we possess is placed on the line in a journey of faith.  Everything is at stake, in play, and at risk in a biblical-quality, God-scripted adventure of faith.

Jesus entreats us to lose our lives for His sake, and in doing so we will find our lives (Mt. 10:39).

Because of the magnitude of the last days, for end-times Christians this has to become more than mere words.  Losing our lives for His sake within a God-composed adventure of faith must actualize in our lives.

Again, this can entail risks of enormous proportions and require decisions that are momentous in their long-range impact upon ourselves and others…keeping in mind the morally correct disclaimer in the last paragraph of the previous essay above.

God cannot let us off easy in this regard and still have our best interests at heart.

If Paul is to be able to write his powerful and insightful New Testament letters to the early churches…with the quality of divine inspiration…he must walk through all of his difficult, lesson-plan challenges.

This is something we sometimes partially miss in Christendom.

For Paul to be able to correctly write the inspired truth, his course must go straight through adversity, tribulation, and struggles that divide out the subtleties and nuances of the issues.

The “narrow way” of Matthew 7:13-14…always has a guided trajectory towards a premeditated goal.

Divinely guided trials proactively scripted through timeless foresight…not random-chance events inadequately resolved in the reactive mode…form the basis of the challenge of the Christian life in the danger zone of faith.

Even Paul’s Spirit-filled Christian friends and companions entreat him not to go up to Jerusalem for that last final visit for fear of personal injury (Acts 21:12).  But Paul has to experience all of the chaotic turmoil of his evangelistic ministry for God to clarify for him the subtle nuances of the knowledge of good and evil.

If we do not have Paul’s fully informed and inspired New Testament letters to all Christians then and now, then we are all diminished greatly in our own journeys of faith.

Paul’s willingness to get out in front, to pay the price to discover “all truth” through God’s narrowly crafted way in an heroic adventure of faith is the hallmark of a person taking up their cross to lose their lives for the sake of Jesus and the gospel (Mk. 8:35).

An easy to identify Old Testament example of this basic truth can be found in the Psalms of David.

David cannot write in his world-famous 23rd Psalm about walking safely through the valley of the shadow of death…with God by his side for protection…unless David in fact and in truth had walked through several danger-filled valleys in real life…darkened by the shadows of death.

Jesus said in John 16:33…“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Tribulation separates us from autonomous self-sovereignty…of sitting atop the thrones of our hearts as unqualified and uninformed kings of the realm of our lives.

This concept of having “tribulation in the world” partially undermines and refutes two of the four or five current, major end-times interpretations of biblical prophecy.

Postmillennialism says that the transforming power of the last-days Christian church will…by the attractive virtue of its winning ways and message…usher in by positive incremental steps the era of the thousand year…”millennial”…reign of Christ on earth.

The pretribulation rapture interpretation says just the opposite…that the believing Christian church will be raptured off the earth before all of the challenging and horrifying action of the Great Tribulation begins.

Both of these biblical end-times prophetic interpretations do not appear to square with the universal, generally applicable biblical concept “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

“In the world ye shall have tribulation” is not consistent with an end-times world slowly and gradually being converted to an elevated level of godliness…consonant with the dawn of a new millennium of blissful peace, truth, and justice.

The challenges, trials-of-faith, and radically life-changing epiphanies of truth that result from “much tribulation”…as a result of a surgical separation from autonomous self-sovereignty through God-composed journeys of faith…is not consistent with a full removal of the Christian church pretribulation before “all the shooting starts.”

One Christian’s View of the End-Times Danger Zone 2

A Fictional Alternate Scenario                    

Imagine for a moment a flashback “alternate reality” of a different scenario for Paul’s life, as is sometimes ingeniously portrayed in modern motion-picture fictional storylines.

After this experience on the road to Damascus, in this alternate reality, Paul returns to Jerusalem and offers as an expedient explanation to the religious leaders of his failed mission that he could find few if any Christians in Damascus.

He judiciously keeps the details of his Christian conversion to himself for the time being.

But Paul is so transformed by his newfound faith he then proceeds to live an exemplary life, rising to the top of the leadership in Jerusalem while marrying a wife and raising a family according to rabbinic tradition (Jn. 18:13).

His leadership skills and his influence in Jerusalem are so highly regarded that when he prudently begins to share his faith in Jesus Christ as the messiah and savior, he is successful in bringing many of the leading Pharisees and scribes who were previously somewhat confused, ambivalent, and undecided about Jesus of Nazareth…to the Christian faith.

In other words, if Paul in a moment of reflective hindsight, towards the end of his actual missionary journeys, had the opportunity to go back and rewrite the course of his life according to a more worldly conventional scenario close to the alternate reality described above, would he have regretted the actual course of his life according to the challenging, difficult, narrowly structured ways and plans of God for a world-class missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world…and instead thought he could have written a better and more effective life-script himself?

From our time-sharpened viewpoint of hindsight, the Saul of Tarsus of the alternate reality, returning to Jerusalem to assume a position of religious and political leadership, no matter how exemplary in terms of humanistic, worldly conventional thinking…could never have written the inspiring and insightful New Testament letters to the early Christian churches.

Conventional normalcy at its highest level of achievement and expression is incapable of excavating the subtly deep issues that separate truth from error in this broken world. 

God knew in advance that Paul would give up his claim to worldly conventional normalcy…if a journey of faith through the danger zone would lead to the “all truth” that Paul so brilliantly articulates in his New Testament letters…that have blessed untold millions of people down through the past twenty centuries.

God knew that Paul would willingly choose the way of the cross, with all of its difficult challenges and positive breakthroughs, if this path took him to the place where both his mind and his heart told him he wanted to go.

The challenges, tribulations, and sufferings of the Christian life in the danger zone, so beautifully documented in the New Testament book of Acts, disembark in a vertical tangent from the horizontally conventional thinking of this world…producing a fulfilling and eternally productive adventure of faith for Paul.

This new adventure of faith was unimaginable to Saul the Pharisee prior to his conversion.  Paul, from the most intense personal experience, can write to the Corinthians: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

A walk of faith following God sometimes entails huge risks and requires the most adventurous spirit of discovery, within the context of the one, single lifetime we enjoy.

Going deeper still, the message that Paul brings to his audiences in the Greco-Roman world…is precisely and exclusively this exceptional adventure of faith that he himself is experiencing.

What Paul has is what he gives.  Paul’s message cannot be separated from his life as recorded in the book of Acts.  Salvation, redemption, forgiveness, and grace are an inseparable part of Paul’s story.  So also is a dynamic, living journey of faith following Jesus Christ into the discovery of “all truth.”

An exemplary life according to worldly conventional normalcy would not produce Paul’s New Testament letters to the early churches…because the message itself is formed and shaped by his God-composed life-script…purposed and directed out of the imaginatively creative mind of God.

I believe Paul wrote the New Testament letter to the Hebrews.  In Hebrews chapter eleven, Paul recounts the great journeys of faith in the Old Testament from the vantage point of his own adventurous journey of faith.

This point is critical to understand for today’s Christian.  Living in a faith-dependent relationship following Jesus Christ sets-up the precise conditions for Christians to have something valuable to give to others…the one thing that is of eternal value…a personal relationship with God…likewise based on and indivisible from a faith-journey.

“That I may KNOW HIM, and the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:10…capital letters mine)…occurs within our God-composed journey of faith…and not within an alternate reality of worldly conventional normalcy…lived and experienced…at even the highest commendable, humanistic level.

But it must always be remembered that the leading of God for born-again Christians, no matter how daring and adventurous, is always in accordance with the scriptures, and always results in morally correct choices, increasingly higher levels of ethical behavior, a better acceptance and performance of responsibilities, a noticeable improvement in personal character traits, and more love towards others.

With time and spiritual maturity, God’s leading eventually results in blessings to a larger number of other people in whatever theater of action God has placed us in.

One Christian’s View of the End-Times Danger Zone 1

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts”.                                                                                                              (Zech. 4:6)

To become a mature Christian disciple today requires a person to be free-thinking in the most open-minded and adventurous way, in contrast to an easy conformity to our current cultural worldview of naturalism, postmodern relativism, and skeptical indifference to God.

As previously discussed in Chapter One…the bogus charge that the world levels at the Christian of “copping-out,” by using belief in God as a crutch to lean on…as an escape-hatch from self-accountability to dump all of our problems off on…is actually the reverse opposite of reality.

In many respects it is much easier to go along with the general tide of today’s popular culture, in which everyone’s opinion is relative, and the moral absolutes of right and wrong are conveniently fuzzy, than it is to be a true Christian engaged in an adventure of faith.

The great irony in our modern times is that the narrow way of the cross is in actuality the most liberating and open-minded route we could possibly follow.  The discovery of the real truth about ourselves, the outside world, and the character traits needed to produce the experience of peace in joyful living, sets people free in love to rise in triumph above the challenges, difficulties, and evils of this world (1 Cor. 13:4-7)…eternal lessons that will outlive time itself.

The life of the apostle Paul is one in a long line of the biblical people of faith living their lives at the liberated edge of the danger zone of a God-composed journey of faith.

Paul as Saul (Paul is the Greek equivalent…in English…of the Hebrew name Saul), the highly educated young Pharisee…personally cares so much about the truth and rightness of his Judaic religion and culture that he actively persecutes the rapidly growing threat of the “new way” of the Christian sect in Jerusalem, after the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1).

But Saul/Paul the Pharisee is entirely wrong about the Christians.

When Jesus of Nazareth miraculously appears in a blinding light to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus, God intervenes in the life of Paul and sets his feet upon an unconventional path towards the discovery of the “all truth” of John 16:13.

This surprisingly turns out, from the elevated divine perspective, to be perfectly in-line with the very passion that initially motivated Paul the Pharisee’s sincere but misdirected attack upon the Christian church.

God’s narrowly specified adventure of faith for Paul opens up for him the very thing he valued the most.

God’s insertion of a new life-script at the perfect time in Paul’s life led to a journey of faith into the danger zone resulting in the unimaginably liberating outcome of Paul becoming one of the true champions of the Christian faith he once persecuted, and a writer of the divinely inspired New Testament Christian truths he so desperately sought…as Saul the Pharisee mistakenly persecuting the seemingly aberrant early church.

Like Abraham’s adventure of faith twenty-two centuries earlier, God completely displaces the life that Paul would have lived in Jerusalem, with a life-script so unimaginable that part of the legitimacy of the transforming message of Paul to the polytheistic, idol-worshipping culture of the Greco-Roman world…was the reality of this abrupt, total turn-about in Paul’s own life.

The great divide between worldly conventional thinking and the higher, living ways of God begins for Paul at this revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God on the road to Damascus.

The journey for Paul to become a research scholar of “real” truth at the grassroots level begins through the lived-experiences of his God-composed journey of faith life-script to evangelize the first-century Greco-Roman world.

In Acts 9:10-16, the story is recounted of a Christian named Ananias living in the city of Damascus, who Jesus tells in a vision to go to Saul of Tarsus, currently in the house of Judas on a street called Straight in Damascus, and to “lay hands” of healing on Saul to restore his sight.

In the vision, when Ananias objects that this Saul of Tarsus is notorious as a persecutor of the Christian church, Jesus answers: “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16).

Certainly this part about Jesus saying that He will show Paul how great things he must suffer as a missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world, was for the benefit of Paul to understand in advance the cost of the inevitable, balancing justice of payback that would come to Paul for the “much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13).

As Paul is being stoned, beaten, jailed, mobbed, forced to leave cities and towns, and generally opposed everywhere in his ministry (Acts 28:22), it would certainly help in the all-important human question to God in the midst of adversity: “why is this happening to me, God?” to be able to look at the dynamics of persecution towards Paul from the viewpoint of someone who had himself been the chief persecutor of the early church in the very recent past.

If God had chosen someone other than Paul as the first evangelist to bring the gospel message to the larger Greco-Roman world in the first-century, who was completely innocent of any such persecution of the early church, and was a recent new recruit filled with the naïve optimism of a reformer, they still would have been met with the same fierce opposition that Paul encountered.

To be successful, this other person would have had to become quickly hardened to the potentially lethal reality of bringing God’s light into spiritual darkness (Jn. 1:5).

God-Composed Life-Scripts

What if our calling as Christians to pick up our cross and follow Jesus is a heart issue of such magnitude that it leads to the most fulfilling and satisfying outcome imaginable, reaching some level internally that responds to a God-created capacity for truth and righteousness…to mirror His own divine capacity in this area?

What if God created us to be able to comprehend (Eph. 3:16-19) the “breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of the fullness of life eternal that God has for us, and not to faint but rather to press forward through the present tribulations we and others experience that are the challenging components of the process of a walk of faith (Eph. 3:13)?

What if the universal dictum that nothing worthwhile in life comes easily or free of struggle, applies also to our Christian discipleship?

If God says to us that the most difficult path is also the one right way to go, then it has to turn out in the end to be the very thing our hearts and minds desire above all else (Ps. 37:4-6).

Confronting and overcoming the destructive intentions of spiritual opposition and darkness…whether it be in the form of invading Midianites for Gideon, or the giant-sized warrior Goliath for David, or the stubbornly unmovable Pharaoh of Egypt for Moses, or simply waiting for a promise of God to eventually come true for Abraham…the take-away lesson here is that the most purposeful and fulfilling of all of life’s experiences must be found in the issues unearthed through a God-designed and composed life-script for each and every person of faith.

The parables in Matthew 13:44-46 tell us that the pursuit of the kingdom of God is like finding a pearl of great value, or a treasure hidden in a field, which we will go and sell all that we have in order to purchase.

Today’s born-again Christians must decide if we want to be either hot or cold.

There is no such thing in the spiritual realm as Christianity Light.

A God-composed journey of faith is designed specifically for us with little or no wiggle-room to venture off-course one way or the other towards mediocrity (Mt. 7:13-14).

The examples of journeys of faith recorded in the Bible tell us how tightly each story is crafted with perfect precision to achieve all of the intended designs and outcomes of God, at the lofty heights of brilliantly creative imagination and at the upper limits of human achievement (Heb. 12:1-2).

There is no middle-ground approach in a God-composed journey of faith (Rev. 3:15).

If Great Britain decides to change from driving on the left side of the road to the right side like continental Europe, then Great Britain cannot go half-way.  Incremental compromise will produce catastrophe.

Some things in life are all-or-nothing.  A biblical-quality journey of faith life-script is a complete, premeditated, all-or-nothing venture into the higher ways of God.  For Spirit-born Christians of today called and chosen to serve Jesus the King of glory, in our heart of hearts we would not want it any other way.

This is the powerful antidote to radical skeptical unbelief…the solvent that dissolves the corrosive arguments of worldly conventional thinking in opposition to the reality of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts recorded in the Bible.

The Management Style of God

People who have a low opinion of others will not expect much out of people.  Leaders with this mindset will not inspire others to perform at their best.  People know instinctively what we think of them.  If we have a low opinion of others, people will generally sink to that level of low expectations.

Confidence placed in us creates the potential to rise to the occasion.

The best managers I have worked with in building construction had the innate ability to place faith and confidence in other people to the point that subordinates did not want to disappoint that person, but would work willingly and diligently hard, to rise to the task at hand, to please that inspiring manager.

God has the highest opinion of people because He created us.  Only someone who had the highest confidence in the potential of people…empowered by His Spirit…would enlist them into precarious adventures of faith like that of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, Deborah, Huldah, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Peter, or Paul.

The creative component of invention in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible appears to us to be at the outer edges of innovative originality, precisely because these supernatural storylines rise to the highest level of faith and confidence God places in people…in the elevated realm of divine leadership theory where God lives, functions, and operates.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are at the top tier of creative imagination because they are simultaneously at the highest optimum pinnacle…the divine level of confidence and faith in the character potential of people (2 Th. 1:10)…when led and guided by the Holy Spirit.

By virtue of the individual callings and revelation of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, God places confidence and validation in us.

The challenging elements of our adventure of faith tell us God thinks we can come through.

This validation from God at the outset of our adventure of faith, which is unconditional and not dependent upon future performance, is a part of the driving force that motivates people in the biblical narrative stories of faith to assume any challenge and take on any task…no matter how high is the personal cost or how thorough is the change in their worldly normative plans.

This is the positive half of the danger zone of surrendering up to God our entire claim to worldly conventional normalcy (Heb. 11:13-16).

This is a key element in an adventure of faith…that God’s faith in us makes us want to be better…to do better…willingly and voluntarily once we catch the vision of our calling of God.

This is an integral part of every biblical adventure of faith.

Amazingly, this universal concept also now emerges as modern discoveries in fields as wide-ranging as education, parenting, athletics, organizational theory, and business management.

This is evidence for the presence of God in the ancient callings of the people of faith…starting with the detailed life-script for Abraham.

This inspired, transforming concept in human experience does not occur in a vacuum.

Its origin is certainly not attributable to evolutionary gradualism…there being no transitional precursors leading up to it in recorded history.

The singular uniqueness of the concept of the cross of Christ that displaces our plans with God’s higher plans…to create a new context where God can place faith in us (not to be confused with the capacity for faith that God created within us…Rom. 12:3b)…is what separates these biblical narrative stories of faith from the rest of the field in religion and philosophy.

There must be an active force that propels pure motives and produces exceptional outcomes.  That force is the attractive good character and will of God…expressed through ingenious life-scripts exhibiting loving faith and confidence in people possessing new spiritual hearts capable of exercising faith…led and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.

The angel Gabriel comes to the city of Nazareth to speak to Mary to tell her that she shall conceive a son in her womb who: “shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk. 1:32-33).

Mary then asks the common question of everyone who is called of God: “How shall this be…and in her particular case…seeing I know not a man?”  The big question is how…how shall this be?

The answer to the question of how, for every biblical person of faith, then and now, is a supernatural, God-composed life-script…which becomes actualized into reality.

Assuming that Mary at this time is about fifteen or sixteen years old, the biblical passages here say that she is a virgin and espoused to Joseph.  She is too young to have done anything exceptionally good or bad on a large scale.  Her life up to this point cannot be classed in the categories of being a small, medium, or large “business” enterprise.

Her life is a blank canvas ready for God to paint a beautiful portrait.  It is a rough-hewn block of marble ready for God’s artistic imagination to chip and chisel away the horizontally conventional pieces of culturally accepted normalcy to create a timeless masterpiece.

Mary is about to enter into the largest imaginable enterprise of an adventure of faith…to rival any in all of human history.

The life-script for Mary the mother of Jesus Christ is complete, entire, and pre-written by God the Father, above anything Mary could or would have imagined.

The God-composed journey of faith life-script for the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ, by definition would have to be exceptionally unprecedented, starting with a miraculous inception and incarnation into this world.

The very legitimate “how” question of Mary is answered through a supernatural, unparalleled adventure of faith that in the deepest sense confirms the words of Gabriel: “blessed art thou among women” (Lk. 1:28).

God knows in advance that both Joseph and Mary are able to rise to this occasion of enormous responsibility, and God the Father is there with them at each critical step of the way with His help, guidance, and provision.

This is the divine management style of God.

Giving Up Ourselves to a Larger Cause

The idea of adhering to a life-script plan composed in conformity to the natural moral law that governs all right behavior, and in conformity to the Golden Rule to love others as ourselves, finds perfect expression in the words of Jesus spoken in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:44).

Amazingly beyond all human comprehension, even the wishes of the Second Person of the Trinity to forego the upcoming challenge of the cross are overridden by the rightness of the life-plan that culminates in Jesus hanging on a Roman cross on Passover Day in Jerusalem…as the Passover Lamb of God atonement for the sins of mankind.

This is simply beyond human creative invention.  Its moral stature of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others is at the highest level imaginable in the spiritual world of God…where loving and supportive relationships are the norm.

The classic point at issue here in going our own way, for every single person in every era of human history…is roughly the same similar issue that confronts the small business owner faced with the challenge of successful company growth.

The mindset of: “I have to do everything myself because I am the only one who can do things right” permeates the human race.  It is correctly identified as sin, exclusively and only in the Bible…because it separates us from God and makes us spiritual rebels…rogue independent agents.

“Turfism”…the idea that this is my turf and everyone else stay out…is a self-centered and constricted viewpoint that will block successful company growth…growth achieved through the new required attitudes of team-spirit, delegation of power, sharing of information, and inspirational confidence in other people to bring out their best.

What works and will get us by…at a bare minimum…in the small business enterprise is exposed as woefully inadequate in the larger business environment.

God wants to take us into a larger place (2 Sam. 22:20; Ps. 118:5).  To do this right He has to create the life-script that will displace our own set-in-concrete ways and routines with a larger and better plan.

Journeys of Faith are Complete, Non-Partial Wholes

The concept that a biblical journey of faith is in place and ready to go…fully scripted within the mind of the Composer God… before each person of faith is initially enlisted into their unique calling and before the action begins…is universal in the pages of the Bible yet found nowhere else in human philosophy, religion, or experience.

Self-realization through a self-propelled program of good works, in the eastern religious sense, is the humanistic counterfeit version that falls far short of the guided tour into all truth that is divinely packaged in a God-composed, compact, biblical-quality journey of faith.

The biblical narrative stories of faith, as experienced through preplanned programs of divine origin, are pathways leading in the opposite direction from the self-realization foundation of randomly discovering truth by learning from our mistakes through fate or chance encounter alone.

Responding to whatever comes our way in life by chance…in the reactive mode…is the underlying theme of every modern literary work of fiction and non-fiction in every genre from romance novel to spy thriller to autobiography to theatrical play.

Preplanned, proactive business models for life having God-composed storylines as their basis…belong exclusively to biblical journeys of faith.

Journeys of faith actively guided by God, where His storyline displaces our worldly conventional storyline, cannot be found anywhere in literature outside of the Bible.

This makes logical sense.   The two domains of reality…conventional and divine…are miles apart.

The Anthropic Principle (1973) in the scientific fields of astrophysics, chemistry, and mathematics tells us that within split-seconds after the Big-Bang creation of the universe, all of the required particles were in place in the right quantities and proportions to permit the existence of complex life like ourselves, billions of years later.

The Joseph “novella” in Genesis 37-50 in the Bible is considered to be one of the great pieces of literature in all of history…a brilliant short story of depth, characterization, pace, plot, and theme to rival anything in modern times.

Like the advance forethought that underlies the Anthropic Principle…of the unimaginably tight arrangement of ingredients essential for future life being put into place eons before complex life actually emerges…in a similar way the singularly imaginative life-script for Joseph comes from God fully formulated and ready for Joseph to step into…without any required collaboration or prior input from Joseph.

The story of Joseph in the Bible has not the slightest hint of a retroactive business plan assembled and implemented in the spur of the moment…mid-stream within the storyline itself…as the result of a hastily discovered need for random, reactive, trial-and-error pragmatism.

Premeditated foreknowledge of where Joseph will eventually end-up, and how to rightly get there within a brilliantly planned and paced series of events, is the through-line of the story.

The first five books of the Old Testament were written sometime between 1,450 and 1,250 B.C. by Moses and a team of learned Hebrew scribes coming with him out of Egypt, during the 40-year period of wandering in the wilderness.

This is approximately 3,000 years before Shakespeare, and about 3,200 years before the development of the modern fiction novel, without anything of equivalent literary quality in-between.

All of the storytelling literature between the close of the writing of the Hebrew Bible around 400 B.C., and Shakespeare in the early 1600’s A.D., are of pre-modern, intermediate quality.

The ancient presence of highly developed, modern quality, God-composed life-scripts starting in the book of Genesis…is evidence of a pre-planned structure and framework of information for personal character growth that God already anticipates in the storylines He has crafted.

If God through His Spirit enables a person to successfully complete the joint-venture journey with Himself alongside each step of the way, He also pre-plans the precise route that journey will take.

The concept of God-composed life-scripts, complete and ready to step into, is also evidenced in the total absence of human collaboration in the initial composition of the messages of the prophets to the Israelites and to other nations…as recorded in the Old Testament.

God knows exactly what He wants to say through the prophets, and instructs them to go…and to stand…in the gate to the city, or in the public square, and proclaim these words exactly as given.

This precise definitiveness allows for no progressive, trial-and-error randomness.

The divinely inspired message of the prophet must be right and perfect the first time…to withstand the test of time…which is outside of horizontally limited, conventional human foresight.

Psalm 22, written by David, with its pinpoint, precise, detailed prophecies is an example of this.

We Need a Spiritual “Business Plan” for our Lives

An instructive observation about the Bible is that there is no collaboration in the conceptual portion of a God-composed journey of faith life-script.

God does not sit down ahead of time with Abraham in Haran and get his creative input on how best to become the “father of faith” example for all of mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, in a life-plan of such exceptional quality that it has stood the test of time for over four thousand years (Gen. 12:2-3).

Even today the life-script of Abraham remains far above worldly conventional understanding (Dan. 12:10).

The first fully developed walk of faith recorded in the Bible was not a trial-run collaboration between Abraham and God.  It was not a progressive, pragmatic evolution of “let’s see if this or that approach works out okay, or not.”

A biblical-quality walk of faith is a fully formulated program containing complex information tightly integrated and rationally sequenced without any hint of trial-and-error randomness…even with human mistakes and failures factored in.

It is a gift of God “fully assembled” and “ready to use” right out of the box.

People normally do not have a detailed blueprint for growth for their small companies or for their personal lives…because they do not know in advance what they will need.

But God does.  God knows the desires of our hearts and minds better than we do.  He created us…we did not create ourselves.

The scriptures tell us that He loved us before we loved Him…that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).             Included in this salvation package of divine love is a detailed “business plan” for life that is perfectly tailored to each one of us, through the long-range foresight and brilliantly creative imagination of God.

Like the example of the construction company perilously caught unprepared in the middle of rapid business growth, we need a complete program in-place and ready-to-go beforehand.

Like the absurdity of trying to assemble an airplane while in flight, it is difficult to implement and integrate a business plan for change retroactively after the fact.

Like trying to change from driving automobiles on the left side of the road to the right side gradually, causing mid-road collisions and pile-ups, a trial-and-error, trial-run phase introduced mid-stream during expansive growth…has too much time-consuming, back-and-forth iteration to be error-proof and trouble-free.

Human life on earth is too short for gradualism.  We don’t have the time to waste on wrong turns, dead-end destinations, or throw-away, “junk” trial-run missteps.

Evolution through blind, trial-and-error chance is not the way.  Our God-composed life-script must be right the first time…ready to go…straight out of the package without assembly and no tools required.

It must have all of its parts in place and fully functioning once lift-off is achieved and we are flying at high altitude through the air.

Every parent I have ever spoken with, regarding the raising of their now grown-up children, looking back in hindsight, have said that if given a second chance…if they could do it all over again…they would do it differently and much better.

Yet God gets the narrative stories of faith in the Bible perfect the first time…even while working with the most daunting of human mistakes and the most potentially bewildering complexity of “soap opera” circumstances (Gen. 16:2; 1 Sam. 1:8; 1 Kings 19:10; Lk. 22:61-62).

This is a powerful argument for why the Bible and its narrative stories of faith are divinely created.  These biblical stories of faith are not trial-and-error epiphanies by the main characters through random chance, fate, or serendipity…as is the case for all humanly composed, fictional book storylines.

Each biblical story is precisely set-up in advance and ready to go, with forethought and creative imagination at the pinnacle of originality and moral depth, from the very beginning.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible are too complex and too saturated with purpose to be anything other than premeditated by an Intelligent Designer of incredibly creative and artistic imagination in the difficult genre of moral truth and right conduct.

A biblical-quality, God-composed journey of faith cannot rationally be interpreted as a humanistic, random-chance search strategy falling into pragmatic place of its own accord.  A God-composed life-script is premeditated, preconceived, and preplanned in a way that is higher than our worldly conventional thinking…and that transcends above everyday normalcy as only a Creator God could invent and pull-off successfully.

The life of Jesus is perfectly sinless throughout as the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sin.

This divinely composed life-script is not a trial-and-error series of iterations…not a series of evolving “oops, that didn’t work, let’s try this instead.”

The composition and execution of the life-plan of Jesus is perfectly complete in its intended mission and outreach the first time through, even amidst trials, temptations, and hostile pushback of every imaginable kind and intensity.

Building Our Own Stairway to Heaven

When the time came for the critical transition from talk to real action…to implementation of much needed beneficial reforms…the owners of the housing construction company failed to realize they themselves were the primary bottleneck to company growth…requiring radical organizational and managerial reform.

Through delegation of authority, through the management style of pushing power downward within the company, and through a radical, 180-degree turn-about in leadership style, employees would be empowered to autonomously shoulder some of the decision-making that would bring out their best self-motivated performance and enthusiastic commitment to their work.

Ironically and unfortunately, however, the company owners became the single major source of resistance and pushback to these proposed beneficial changes…that they themselves originally commissioned and endorsed.

The human tendency to take reform concepts, and partially set them aside or shave them down to conveniently fit within our already established program, is partly what Paul is talking about in Romans 10:3…”For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

We cannot take preferred bits and pieces of the precepts of God to suit ourselves, and then attempt to build our own stairway to heaven using partially selected components (see Mk 7:9).

Each and every piece must be included and be in the right place to produce a functional staircase.  Partial construction according to our own short-sighted program will not work.

A biblical-quality, God-composed journey of faith life-script is a larger, expansive business plan by God’s intentional and purposeful design.

Venturing with God out into the larger scope of the new territory of godliness in action, a territory by definition completely unfamiliar to us, requires a fundamental change in our discipleship outlook in the all-important areas of who is in control of our lives, who has the power as the new general manager, and who maintains sovereignty over the new expanded program (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 3:5-6; Mt. 16:24-25).

There is a night-and-day difference, in practical application and concrete outcomes, between changing a reform program to fit neatly within our settled ways of doing things, versus allowing the reform program to instead radically change us.

This is the essence of the reform program contained within the saying of Jesus regarding “new covenant” discipleship: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mk 8:34-35).

If the stagnation of the status quo wins-out…because people pushback against beneficial change…then nothing will improve and things will stay the same.

The analogy to a rapidly growing housing construction company applies here to all Spirit-born Christians today.  If we continue to do things the same way then we will simply get more of the same results.  God has to displace our ways…with His higher life-script for us…if anything meaningful is to happen.

The importance of a changed program within the biblical narrative stories of faith is a concept that all humans have difficulty seeing and understanding, as evidenced in the construction company owner’s eventual negative response of pushback to the need for change in their company, preferring to stay within the comfortable mindset of their established, small-business routines.

If we decide to take up our cross and to follow Jesus, he then says: “Come.”  God will then insert a divinely crafted life-script into our lives that contains everything of value…purpose, direction, love, support, inspiration in time of need, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, service to others, inner peace, order, organization, hope…and character growth obtained through a singular, challenging mission that we could never dream up on our own.

And God can do this starting in the exact place we currently find ourselves.  Our part is to surrender, pray, listen for instructions, and be patient.

In business, sometimes cheap isn’t always the most economical.  We have to spend money to make money.

The gain we make through an investment in God’s eternal business plan far outweighs our initial cost in picking up our cross and following the resurrected Jesus.

Paul instructs the Christian: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

The Holy Spirit Will Guide You into All Truth 2

If all of God’s communications with the people of faith in the Bible were verbal only, then these communications would dissipate into the atmosphere after they were spoken, and we would be left only with oral legends of the mighty works of God and of the life-stories of the people of faith in the distant past.

Equally important, if all of God’s communications with the people of faith in the Bible were verbal only…but also only applied specifically to each life-script storyline without having universally timeless relevance and application beyond the life-scripts of Abraham, David, or Paul…for example…then recording the themes and life-lessons of these divinely composed life-scripts would have little value other than as interesting reading.

By committing journeys of faith into written form, with all of the relevant backstory details and character growth issues, God lays everything out on the table for believers newly embarking on their own journeys of faith…and in doing so confirms the high value of their timeless relevance for Christians today.

Without the Bible, we would have no written record with which to gage the correctness of our own Christian journeys of faith, especially when we are at the beginning, training phase of taking up our cross to follow Jesus.

Without a standard to go by, the newness of surrendering our own will-and-way to God’s higher ways would and usually does generate doubts and questions…compared to our comfortable familiarity with expected worldly conventional norms.

In Luke 24:13-32, the story is told of Jesus on Resurrection Day overtaking two of the disciples as they walked towards a nearby village from Jerusalem called Emmaus.

The identity of Jesus is miraculously hidden as He enters into their conversation about the recent events of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth who was “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk. 24:19).

The two men say: “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done” (Lk. 24:21), and then go on to state that women they knew went to the sepulcher early and “found not his body,” had a vision of angels, and that other men then went to the sepulcher and confirmed that the tomb was empty.

While still not recognizing Him, Jesus alleviated their doubts and confusion by using the scriptures to validate and clarify the rightness of His life-script and the totally unconventional “way of the cross.”

Jesus appealed to the written record: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27).

Jesus explained Himself, His actions, and the perplexing events of the previous three days, out of the scriptures.

Even though He told the disciples in advance that He would suffer, be killed, and rise the third day, they were too stuck in the expectant mindset of a triumphant Son of David messiah ruling and reigning in Jerusalem to see a different, better scenario.

God’s “business plan” for growth featured redemptive salvation and a new covenant relationship with believers on a universal basis, extending and ongoing now for two thousand years.

The confusion these two disciples expressed on the road to Emmaus, about the ways of God at this very beginning of the new covenant age, epitomizes and accents the novelty of the danger zone of a walk of faith that rises far above worldly conventional normalcy.

The way of the cross was…and still is…not fully understood because it is so contrary to worldly conventional thinking.

Cleopas and his friend, on their way to Emmaus, were basically saying: “we are sincerely confounded and discouraged by the cross.”

They didn’t say: “Of course we understand all this…the ancient tradition of the Passover sacrifice is a preview through all of the preceding centuries of the recent sacrifice of Jesus only a few days ago for the sins of the entire world…past, present, and future…and we expect Him to resurface any time now because He said ‘destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’…also, we have Psalm 22 and Proverbs 3:5-6 memorized.”

Cleopas and his friend did not understand the concept of the way of the cross even on the day of the resurrection.

This is why we need the Bible as the written record of the higher ways of God, and why Jesus as the living “Word of God” (Jn. 1:1), appealed to the scriptures in validating and clarifying His own experience of the way of the cross to these two disciples on the very day of His resurrection.

Luke 24:32 summarizes the value of the Bible in written form as the guiding standard and confirmation of the novelty of the way of the cross in the lives of Christians today:

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

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