My Testimony 3

My Conversion Story

At age 17, as a junior in high school, I almost made it into the ranks of professional surfing in Southern California.

I got fourth place in a 2A/3A junior-age division surfing contest in the old WSA (Western Surfing Association)…which if I had gotten first-place would have allowed me to have an automatic entrance into the professional contests as 3A regional junior champion.

I was in the Windansea Surf Club in the junior division…ages 15-17… and was a member of the Greg Noll surf team…a legendary big-wave surfer from the 1960’s and a successful surfboard manufacturer.

When I was 18, I worked at the Greg Noll surfboard factory part-time while a senior in high school and the summer after graduation…selling surfboard foam blanks, fiberglass, resin, and fins to people making their own homemade surfboards in their garage…which was popular at that time.

Two of the guys on the surf team ran into me at the surfboard factory while I was outside watering the potted plants…in late July of that summer…and began to tell me about their becoming Christians…about the house near the beach where I surfed that was a “house church” long before there was such a thing…and gave me some Christian tracts to read and asked me if I was interested in going.

I listened politely and took their literature…but said I was not interested.  They probably walked away thinking that I was a hopeless case…unreachable in my carefree worldliness.

I am sharing these details to show that my mindset was not anywhere near the stereotype that atheists paint of Christians…inaccurately projecting their own viewpoint of skeptical confusion on to other people.

I was a fairly normal and well-adjusted person focusing on surfing as the main interest in my life…not unlike many other young men at my age living near the ocean.

The personal story I am about to recount has been and is today being repeated for hundreds of millions of Christians around the world…with variations as to their individual backgrounds and how they came to Christ.

After this discussion at the surfboard factory…over a two-week period something unexpectedly new changed inside me.  Even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into…thinking I would be walking into some social clique-ish type gathering with boring people I could not relate to…I surprisingly decided to go…by myself… on a Sunday evening.

I knew where the house was…on a large corner lot across the street from the ocean.  I had walked by this house many times on the way to the “village” for donuts or hamburgers…after surfing just down the beach a short distance away.

This house had a very large living room with a high ceiling…which seated around 125 people sitting on fold-out chairs…with young people sitting on the fireplace hearth and on the stairs, and overflow people in the hallway.

As I walked in the front door…I found a seat in the back where I could navigate a quick and easy exit if I did not like the service.

When I first sat down I immediately noticed something different.  The people already there ahead of me were seated quietly…not up and walking all over the room visiting with friends before the start of the service.

When the music and singing started, I noticed that people were enjoying the experience and genuinely glad to be there…and not looking at their watches with thoughts elsewhere on getting home later to watch the end of a baseball game on television…or their favorite TV show they were missing.

When the message started…I could not tell you now in hindsight what it was about.  All I remember is that God opened up my life before me…and showed me on His score-card how I was doing.  I did not sense condemnation or judgment on His part…but a very real offering of a new life option that I had never before contemplated.

During the preaching of that message…I encountered two new revelations that changed my life…first that God existed…and second that He knew all about me.

God knew all about my flaws as a person.  But I sensed a supportive optimism in His evaluation and intimate knowledge of me…that offered hope in a new future me that was encouraging on a level I had never previously experienced.  God had faith in me…despite my checkered past and numerous shortcomings.

As God opened up my life before me…He separated the two realities regarding me into two parts…that I was not aware of until that moment in time.

God showed me on the one hand what the world thought of me…and what it would continue to think of me going forward…having the worldly conventional acceptance of a blond-haired, blue-eyed California surfer who was well-known and well-liked…enjoying my life on my terms and according to my standards…because that was all I knew about.

Then God showed me His more discerning and insightful assessment…as my Creator…of how I was falling short in so many areas…being self-centered, unthoughtful of others, lazy in school and not using my God-given intelligence, and basically without any plan or direction for my life other than fulfilling the first priority of me, myself, and I…so universally prevalent and socially acceptable in the world…a world ignorant of God’s higher ways and thoughts.

Until that night…and meeting God for the first time…I had no idea there was another option…that there was another way.

Again, I did not sense any condemnation from God…just an honest and insightful appraisal of the direction I was going…from the informed perspective of the one single Person who would have the inside information.

One of my first reactions was: “oh no…I am undone…I am exposed as the imposter I am presenting to the outside world…when I am really something else not very commendable or admirable.”

At the beginning of the alter call…looking back now…I can remember having the sense that God at this point actually stepped back…and more or less said: “now that you know the truth…you can continue onward in the way that you are going but you will always know from here onward that it is a lie…or you can ask Me into your life and I will make you into a new person and lead you into becoming the person I created you to be.”

While heads were bowed and eyes closed…I sat momentarily on the fence…knowing that a decision for Christ would alter my life forever…and that it would cost something in that I would have to give up some if not all of my past lifestyle.

I remember that I was the fourth out of five people to accept Christ that night by raising my hand…and the procedure which I like the best…is that I did not have to go forward to be singled-out along with the other four new believers…but that all of the people in the room stood and said the sinner’s prayer together as a group.

I believe that God has eternal foreknowledge and foresight…living in a timeless environment (Isa. 46:9-10).  As God stepped back…to enable my free-will to choose Him…He knew beforehand that my response would be yes.

But this is one of the realities that compellingly argues for a divine origin of the God of the Bible…having a complexity and integrated blend of God’s timeless existence…coordinated with human beings living in the four dimensions of space and time…that is the diametric opposite of being simplistic or simple-minded.

God’s foreknowledge and my free-will came together that night so many years ago now…in the mystery of the creation of a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) that is beyond human literary imagination to invent.

This is why I have included this essay in my book.

As previously said above…this is the common salvation experience of tens if not hundreds of millions of born-again Christians across the globe…with slightly different circumstances but the same result…of meeting the living God for the first time and being changed forever.

If atheists and skeptics want to characterize my salvation experience as a delusion…so be it.

What happened next is what separates my experiential perspective…from the viewpoint of atheists and skeptical critics of the Bible.

Over the next two weeks I felt a very real release from the weight of my past failings and shortcomings…the uncertainty of the future no longer being a nagging concern…my spirit rejoicing with the angels in heaven that another lost soul…me…had obtained eternal life…had escaped spiritual darkness and entered into light.

I literally became a new person.  The internal reformation was an unmistakably supernatural event.

It was not a personal epiphany…not self-realization…not an intellectual recognition of a system of thought I agreed with…and not some satisfying of a previously unseen internal deficiency I needed to remedy through self-reform or wise outside human council.

This salvation experience had its grounding…its roots…its substance…in meeting the living God on a personal basis…for the first time in my life.

What will infuriate some atheists and skeptics…if they even grant any credibility to my testimony…is that this does not fit within the stereotype of the person raised in the church and partially brainwashed by its teachings.

I was not only an unqualified sinner…lacking any good-works merit to attract the positive attention of God to be singled-out for salvation…but I was not even searching for God.

I didn’t find God…He found me.  I wasn’t searching for God…He called me and I simply responded to His invitation.

When a person discovers that God actually exists…and that He is the God of the Bible…this changes the outlook on everything.

When I started reading the Bible for the first time in my life at my conversion…because I then had been introduced to the living God…had been spiritually born-again…and was living in a new walk of faith following Him…the supernatural in the Bible was not a problem for me.

I knew from that time forward…on independent grounds…that the supernatural was real.

If God could transform me…like He did…then He can raise Jesus from the dead to be the Savior of the world…or perform any number of other miracles recorded in the Bible.

I was not reading the Bible as mere human literature…like we do in university religious studies classes.  The Bible came alive as the Word of God…unlike anything I had known previously or since then.

I have no idea in terms of absolute mathematics, physics, and chemistry how God opened up the Red Sea for the Israelites to safely cross on dry land…or the composition of the manna that fed the Israelites on the exodus to the Promised Land…or how God can make the lips of a donkey move while generating clearly articulated words understood by the prophet Balaam…when donkeys do not possess vocal chords that can produce intelligible speech…or a number of other supernatural events that atheists and skeptics choke on…in the Bible.

I am not sure that these one-time, non-repeating events will ever be understood through the human enterprise of scientific investigation.  The God created reality of the orderliness and intelligibility of our natural world may not extend into the transcendent capacity of God to perform the actions of miracles that fall outside of the normal experiences and observations of everyday phenomenon.

My Christian Life since My Conversion

Space will not allow telling about my clear calling into a career in building construction…how I began writing books on housing construction at age 30…being a C-minus student in the two required English composition classes I took years earlier in junior college…and after 13 years of drawing illustrations and writing the accompanying text…I got the first of four books on building construction accepted for publication by McGraw-Hill (1995-98 under Bart Jahn).

I could tell about the origin of my seven Christian books…this being my seventh…and my struggle to accurately listen in the Spirit to what God was telling me through my life experiences and reading of the Bible…as a non-scholar…to articulate into words…sophisticated ideas and concepts that I still feel ill-equipped to tackle.

My goal in this testimony is to offer the contrary rebuttal to the atheistic viewpoint that assumes that God does not exist…critiques the Bible and Christianity in this same shortsighted light…and then assumes that Spirit-born and Spirit-led Christians approach the Bible and their personal journey of faith…in a similarly doubtful and uncertain way.

This has not been my experience…or the experience of the many Christians I know.

I may not be practicing my Christian faith at the high level of the analogy of playing tennis at the professional level as at the U.S. Open.  An outsider critiquing my life may or may not see a “professional” Christian in action.

But my experience is real and genuine…and is based upon a personal relationship following God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

I cannot emphasize enough the rebuttal to the false charge that faith in the God of the Bible…is a delusion.  My personal relationship following Jesus Christ within a God-composed adventure of faith…is not a product of group-think or conformity to organized churchianity.

I hope the complex, specified, and coherently integrated information in the topics discussed in this book…is itself plausible and compelling evidence of authenticity as to the genuineness of the existence of God, the divine origin of the Bible, and the truth of Christianity…played out through God-composed life-scripts for imperfect people like myself.

I want to close out the book with the following verses from Romans 8:35-39:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Not height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My Testimony…Part 2

My Background Growing Up

As I said earlier, I was not raised in a Christian or church-going family.  I cannot think of a single friend of mine in grade school or high school…whose family attended church.  I can honestly say…looking back…that I did not know a single person in my childhood…or teenage years…who openly claimed to be a Christian and a practicing follower of Jesus Christ.

Christianity was simply something that was not a part of my life growing up.

My parents were divorced when I was eight years old.  Before then we did as a family occasionally attend a mainstream denominational church…but after the divorce my mother felt ostracized in that church…so we moved over to a different denominational church nearby.

But throughout my early childhood, my recollection was that our attendance was spotty…was never regular…and had no impact upon me in terms of having any comprehension of the Bible, Christianity, or of God.

When at age eighteen I heard the Christian gospel message for the first time…and was contemplating what to do during the alter call following the message…if someone would have offered me a million dollars to recite one Bible verse from memory…I could not have done it.

At the end of that first service after asking Jesus Christ into my life…I was given a paperback copy of the New Testament as a gift.  It took me about two weeks of reading the gospels in the New Testament for the first time…to figure out who Jesus was and where He figured into all of this.

I was so uninformed on that first night upon hearing the salvation message…I asked God into my life…having as yet no clear idea as to who Jesus was.

I basically came off the street into Christianity…having no previous background of “brainwashing” in any sense whatsoever…either pro or con…to inform or influence my decision for Christ.

At that time…I was also not looking for God…not searching for purpose and meaning in life…and thoroughly disinterested in religion of any sort.

I was simply too self-absorbed as an up-and-coming teenage competitive surfer in Southern California.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I was always a good athlete growing up.  I was in the “top ten” each week in batting average and in pitching earned-run average in Little League baseball when I was eleven and twelve…published in the weekly newsletter distributed at the ballpark…and played third base in the All Stars at the end of the regular season (a position I did not like).

I will always remember the sensation as an eleven-year old taking the mound as the starting pitcher on a Saturday morning…looking around at the freshly mowed grass…the outfield fence with all of the local sponsor’s advertising billboards…the parents in the bleachers…picking up the brand new baseball and applying rosin powder from the rosin bag…digging out some of the dirt in front of the pitcher’s rubber with my shoe cleats…throwing several warm-up pitches…seeing the umpire sweeping off home plate with his hand-held broom…the first batter stepping into the batter’s box…winding up and throwing a fastball down the middle…hearing the pop as the ball hits the catcher’s mitt…seeing the umpire throw out his right arm…and yelling steeeeeeee…rike one!

These are some of the fondest memories from my childhood.

In Little League baseball…when I was nine years old…my older brother Brian made it on to the major league Red Sox team.

In those days, one nine-year old was allowed on each major league team of ten-to-twelve year olds…and for the logistics benefit of the mothers and fathers coordinating the taxying of two or more sons to various games and practices…for convenience they would place the nine-year old on the same team as the older brother.

So at age nine I was a “major leaguer”…one of only two kids in the fourth grade in our elementary school class that year to achieve this lofty designation…thanks solely to having an older brother who was eleven…and who had made the team.

In the next year when I was ten…my brother and I played on this Red Sox team that became the Little League equivalent of the Bronx Bombers. 

We had a left-handed pitcher Glen Thompson with an ERA below one, a catcher Dave “Fudge” Ptak who hit the most home runs in the league that year, and my older brother who batted 590 and was second in the league in batting average that year behind Skip Jarvis who batted 615…who lived down the street from us…was the same age twelve as my older brother…and was part of the local crowd I played sports with at that age. I was the starting second baseman…my favorite position.

I will never forget our baseball coach that year…Ed Grabowski…who taught me and my brother how to play baseball.  Our team had eighteen wins and four losses…and was the best team that year.  At the awards banquet…as a ten-year old…the championship trophy I received seemed half my height.

I grew up in the same area…and went to the same schools with the same kids from grade school through high school…although our high school had 3,000 kids and there were 850 seniors in my graduating class.

I was moderately good looking in high school…and had some cute girlfriends.  I went to the high school dances and proms…and as a freshman went to some of the “away” football games with my girlfriend on the school bus…when I was not out with my drinking buddies.

Because of having a single parent…a full-time working mother…I had a lot more freedom than kids from two-parent homes…but there was a line beyond which I did not cross…out of respect for her.

But I was way ahead of most of my peers in high school in a somewhat moderated, near-the-edge of notoriously scandalous behavior…having a black sheep reputation of exploration into debauchery and worldliness.

When I walked into that home church on a perfect summer evening on Sunday, August 10, 1970…and became a Christian that night…I had already experienced things that many of my age-group would explore and discover in their upcoming college years and beyond.

At age 18, no one would accuse me of being sheltered, naïve, or religiously brainwashed.

Being a “latch-key” kid…I was worldly street-savvy beyond my years.

That is my general background growing up.  I knew a lot of young people from playing baseball and at the beach.  I was relatively popular…had a wide-circle of friends…was relatively normal in a worldly sense in the high school party-scene and the drinking of alcohol…but did not do drugs…even though they were all around me and easily accessible…because of my surfing.

And at the time…I was not looking for God…and could not have cared less about Christianity…or anything to do with Jesus Christ.

This should give the reader a broad outline of what I was and where I was coming from…before I became a Christian.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

My Testimony…Part 1

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.                                                (1 Pet. 3:15)

Atheists and skeptical critics of Christianity…in their books…often attempt to universally stereotype Christians as being socially and culturally brainwashed through childhoods in which religion was introduced at an early age…which then forms a persistent and lasting belief in a God who does not in fact exist…a conditioned belief in religious precepts, moral rules, and rituals that have no basis in reality.

What is implied and inferred here by atheists is that Spirit-born Christians specifically…because of the doctrine of repentance from sin…and salvation alone through the cross of Christ…thereby admitting our need for God which is abhorrent to humanists…are a factually deluded group of losers in a worldly sense…who were misled as children through no fault of our own…and who must now as adults throw off the crutch of religion that we are leaning upon to get through life…and think our way free from myths and children’s bedtime stories…into the modern, rational, and liberated mindset of atheism.

I would counter by saying that no matter how successful some people are in this life…however we define success…worldly or otherwise…that every person without exception is to some extent a loser…someone who falls short…in that no single person alive today can claim to be morally, ethically, intellectually, athletically…or in any other way…absolutely perfect.

Every sane person on the planet would admit to being an imperfect person.

We all share this universal trait of imperfection…in common in varying degrees…which makes no sense coming from the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism.

Genetic mutation, variant traits chosen by natural selection, geographical isolation, reproductive barriers, the separation of genetic pools, and any other microevolutionary process…could not create the universal recognition and awareness of moral imperfection in human beings alone…according to a higher standard of right and wrong that transcends above the ability of materials particles and energy to create.

But that is a subject for another book.

Atheists and skeptics often tell their personal story of having religion crammed down their throats during their childhood…at home or at school or both…and then being liberated by science or free-thinking philosophy in their middle to late teens…abandoning a faith that was never personally real for them as individuals.

The basic problem here is that atheists and skeptics do not believe that God exists at all.

This program of thinking necessarily downgrades all religions equally into the zone of having man-invented gods and religious precepts…that therefore have no objective authority…no transcendent standard outside of human inventive imagination…upon which to base a reliable worldview…a sustainable game-plan for life.

In the clever, pragmatic, and worldly sensible program of humanism…we make ourselves into autonomous gods.

In this essay, I would like to offer my own alternate experience…which was and still is to this day…supernatural to the core…based not upon adherence to a religion…but instead founded upon the rock-solid certainty of a calling of God…a journey of faith…after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

This experience informs my interpretation of the Bible, my acceptance of miracles, my rejection of the philosophy of naturalistic materialism, and the high value I place in the biblical journeys of faith.

It forms the basis for the writing of this book…my other six books on Christianity…and my eight books written…so far…on building construction.

What is really sad…from my perspective…is that people like Richard Dawkins write books saying that belief in the God of the Bible is a delusion…when as atheists they have no idea what they are talking about.

If we scrape the meringue off the top of a lemon meringue pie…we are left with only a lemon pie.  If we scrape the cream off the top of a chocolate cream pie…of course we are left with only a chocolate pie.

If we remove God off the top of the reality of life…out of our worldview…then we are left with the philosophy of naturalism…that our natural world is the sole explanation for the origin and continuance of the phenomenon we observe and experience in this life.

Atheists downgrade the Bible and Christianity into the zone of man-made, make-believe religion…which when critiqued through the equation of naturalism can only spit-out naturalistic answers.

The atheistic program is rigged from the outset.  The last people qualified on earth to opine on the divine origin of the Bible, the existence of God, and the transcendent message of Christianity…are atheists.

Atheists and skeptics are welcome to write books critical of the Bible and Christianity.

But their beginning negative bias that God does not exist creates inescapable garbage in/garbage out research programs…an example of confirmation bias applied over the entire database of issues being examined…that cannot rise above the over-arching paradigm of their starting worldview…that invalidates their ultimate conclusions.

I am not a Christian because I was raised in a Christian home…or attended church growing up…or hung-out with friends who were believing Christians.  I did not attend a Christian elementary school or high school.  I was not convinced of the truth of the Bible and Christianity through apologetic arguments presented to me as a teenager.  I did not have an older Christian man or woman, relative or acquaintance, as an attractive role model to follow.

I am a Christian because I met God…the real God…the creator of the universe…personally.

This obviously lifts the discussion into a zone where atheists and skeptics cannot enter…because at the outset their worldview says that God does not exist at all…and therefore I cannot possibly know God on a personal basis…and am honestly mistaken or deluded.

In this essay, I want to first briefly establish a context for any honest truth-seeker evaluating genuine Christian experience.

If a researcher wants to honestly and reasonably evaluate the game of tennis…for example…the worst approach would be to intentionally visit the local tennis courts at a nearby high school on a windy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

There the researcher would find novice beginners miss-hitting the tennis ball over the rear chain-link fence…or hitting it sideways into the adjacent courts…shouting “sorry” and “a little help” to adjacent court players being asked to return the errant tennis ball every five minutes.

If a person wants to observe real tennis…the place to go is to professional venues to watch tournaments…in person if possible…such as Wimbledon, the French Open, the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, or tournaments at colleges and universities.

The place to go to evaluate real Christianity…is the Bible.  The gospels, the book of Acts, and the letters to the first-century Christian churches…give the genuine and authentic…God-authorized…examples of the Christian faith, doctrines, and practices when energized by the Holy Spirit.

The biblical narrative stories of faith describe people experiencing a personal relationship with God…which passes unnoticed as non-factual data…far underneath the perceptual radar of atheists analyzing the Bible…because the working hypothesis for the skeptic is that God does not exist.

There are Christians around the world…that accurately represent and define the pinnacle…the peak…the apex of Christian character, service, and ministry to other people…according to their precise callings of God.

But these select people…like the professional tennis players…are relatively few in number.

We certainly can find high-quality Christians equivalent in our analogy to college and high school team-level tennis players…but the largest number of Christians would be categorized alongside the large number of casual weekend tennis players learning the game…and miss-hitting the ball.

But the point of having public tennis courts spread-out all over the globe…is to make the game of tennis available to all…beginning novice or expert.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie…Part 2

Darwinian evolution must be split into two parts…microevolution and macroevolution.

At the time of the writing of Darwin’s book The Origin of Species in 1859…microevolution was then and still is today a non-controversial fact…demonstrated in the artificial selection by humans of the variant traits put out in a host of living things…from dogs, horses, cattle, and sheep…to agricultural crops of corn or wheat…to rose bush flowers of different shapes and colors…that can thus be intentionally altered to produce radically exotic varieties…far exceeding what nature produces that can survive in the wild.

When scientists confidently assert that evolution is a fact…if they mean by this that microevolution is a fact…then they are entirely correct.

Macroevolution…on the other hand…is the idea that the concept of microevolution can be extended and extrapolated into the existence of genetically open borders in ancestral and current living things…putting out variant traits extreme enough over long periods of time…to be able to turn a fish into a bird…without foresight or a premeditated end-point in mind.

Without foresight or direction…the concept of macroevolution producing the vast diversity of life…arriving at well-defined architectural body plans and lifestyle habits…in essence…is equivalent to the book writer’s random-chance search for a meaningful story through an eyes-closed approach while hitting keystrokes on their laptop computer keyboard.

What is not clearly explained or articulated by Darwinists is that this macroevolutionary program of a random-chance search strategy…of genetic accidents putting out variant traits chosen by natural selection…for the moment again changing gears over to my more easy to understand example of the murder mystery fiction novel…could by mere random chance…type-out for the final two or three chapters a comedy, American western, romance, biographical history, cookbook, or cold-war spy-novel ending…rather than the sought-after, suspense-filled, who-done-it murder mystery book ending.

Yet in the natural world we see living things that have incredibly fine-tuned end-points of unique definition…possessing the capacities for survival and reproduction.

We do not see living things that have made a momentary wrong turn in their development…requiring a course correction that is obvious…from deleting the chapter endings to the book that were erroneously comedic…to get back into the correct groove toward producing by a random-chance search for the murder mystery ending to match the first four-fifths of the book.

Not only do we not have libraries full of books having their final two or three chapters consisting of nonsensical gibberish…we do not see in our current natural world even the slightest hint of living things part-way in development or in transition toward something else.

And like the murder mystery story having the wrong comedic ending…of having a failed attempt at achieving function…we do not see inconsistent monstrosities in nature like grizzly bears having lion heads, or leopards having wings that can fly, or the top-half of humans having two arms connected to the bottom-half bodies of horses having four legs.

Darwinists assert that the genetic changes of evolution are too small for us to be able to detect within one human life-time.

This assertion is not valid.

Every living thing in the natural world appears at this present time to be at their functional end-point of development…beyond which even our imaginations cannot carry us further.

To suggest that we cannot find anything amongst the billions of life-forms on earth…that would be caught mid-stream in our current snap-shot in time…along a pathway of continued partial development toward some easily discernable final end-point culmination…simply points-out the extremely difficult tightrope that Charles Darwin postulated…in attempting to come up with an explanation for the origin of species and the resulting diversity of life…through a wholly naturalistic process…having no intelligent designer help…having no Agatha Christie utilizing her creative imagination to complete her murder mystery books…producing story-endings having the most creatively specified information…analogous to the narrow bandwidths of definition that characterize all living things.

The second important point to complete the ending to my own overly long essay here…that will offend many people in our modern culture…but which cannot be helped or avoided…is the idea that when contemporary scientists look at the obvious design in the natural world…and come away with only a materialistic, non-theistic conclusion…they fall within the same category as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden choosing going our own way…and stand foursquare alongside the Pharisees and scribes in first-century Jerusalem…that upon hearing the evidence for Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead…were not influenced or deterred in the slightest from proceeding within the status quo of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

Going our own way (Isa. 53:6) cannot be imported into God’s kingdom of heaven…upsetting and plaguing peace and harmony…for all eternity.

Likewise, the pride-filled, humanistic approach of thinking we can save ourselves as junior gods through the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:5)…will generate the blindness of the Pharisees in missing the divinity of Jesus Christ after the bringing the four-days-dead Lazarus back to life…and will permeate the materialistic bias of some modern scientists who cannot see and acknowledge design as part of their worldview…design that is resplendent everywhere we look in the natural world.

At Calvary, God did not focus upon the issues of bank fraud, bank robbery, stock market fraud, stage-coach robbery, the stealing of funds from the Temple treasury, or any other common crimes.

At Calvary, God focused on the one issue that is the most important in all of reality…self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty.

In the Garden of Eden…Satan introduced a new worldview of implied distrust and unbelief in the character of God (Gen. 3:4-5)…creating the worldview of trust and faith in ourselves alone…of going our own way…which is empirically proved daily in our newspapers…as going the wrong way…culminating in the extreme demonstration of this through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…the expediently desperate measure taken by the Pharisees and scribes to perpetuate their worldview of going our own way.

When scientists look at the natural world…then confidently write in their books that evolution is a fact…not only is this a semantics error in not differentiating between micro and macro evolution…but this is a conclusion that originates from their overriding worldview of going our own way…and not as a result of scientific fact-based evidence.

The atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism allows us to remain in the worldview of going our own way…of attempting to figure-out the natural world through scientific investigation…on our own.

The viewpoint of theistic creation…of “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)…is not and never has been a science-stopper.

At some point the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world we investigate through science…may hit a ceiling beyond which further research cannot go…regardless and irrespective of worldviews.

As stated earlier…scientific investigation has appeared to reach a dead-end in the field of origin-of-life studies…the leap from the non-living world to the living world being too large to cross…at least for now using a non-theistic explanation.

But this is not a science-stopper.  Nothing prevents further investigation and theorizing as to how to cross this gap from non-living materials to the complexity of living things.

I am not in favor of God-of-the-gaps or science-of-the-gaps explanations in lieu of the hard investigative research into the mysteries of the natural world.

I love science.  I am fascinated by the history of science.  The biographies of Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, Hubble…and yes, Darwin…along with the modern Scientific Revolution…the two Industrial Revolutions…and the Doctrine of Progress…are all of enormous interest to me.

If I could go back in time and choose another career path…historian of science or philosopher of science…with an undergraduate college degree in mathematics or physics or chemistry… would be an appealing choice.

But this negative exposure of the worldview of going our own way…in the Garden of Eden…in first-century Jerusalem…and in our modern-day culture in the scientific investigation into the natural world using materialism as the operative worldview…that this exposure is extremely offensive to and will be soundly rejected by worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…is a fundamental problem for our world.

The fundamental problem here…as big as it gets…is that this extremely divisive offense…to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…of critically exposing the negative downside of going our own way…comes to us by the deliberate intention of God (Rom. 9:33; Gal. 5:11; 1 Pet. 2:7-8)…lovingly for our benefit.

The tragic scene of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the hill of Calvary is a divinely surgical separation of self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty…into two violently opposing camps…that only God could and would orchestrate…for our benefit for the highest reasons imaginable.

This is another compelling evidence for the divine origin of the Bible and the truth of Christianity.

The acceptance of a random-chance search strategy through genetic accidental mutations…putting-out variant traits over and above microevolution…chosen by natural selection…to explain the progression of life from the early single-cell bacteria of 3.5-billion years ago to the brilliant diversity of life we can watch on nature programs on television of the large mammals inhabiting the African plains…is every bit as logically absurd…in terms of mathematical improbability…as Agatha Christie with eyes closed hitting random keystrokes in a futile attempt to produce the highly specified information of a murder mystery book.

Our worldview influences and directs everything we think about and choose.

Worldview is the most important factor in the broad array of moral concepts…the first among many things being fought over in spiritually high places (Eph. 6:12) between God and Satan…for the hearts and minds of people.

This is why God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…producing the biblical narrative stories of faith…were invented by God…to shift our worldview from the horizontally conventional viewpoint of me, myself, and I…sitting upon our thrones of self-sovereignty…instead to a vertically inclined vision of the higher ways and thoughts of God.

Going our own way…or picking up our cross to follow Jesus into a God-composed journey of faith life-script designed individually for each one of us…exists at the pinnacle…the zenith of moral choices as we look at the cross of Jesus Christ on Calvary Hill…as complex, specified, and coherently integrated an event…as any in all of time eternal.

“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)

“If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.                                                                                                            (Acts 4:9-12)

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie…Part 1

A murder mystery fiction novel has an exact combination of letters comprising words, spaces between the words, paragraph indentations, commas, semi-colons, periods, good grammar, and artistic and imaginative compliance with the general rules for characterization, pace, and suspense…for the literary genre of a murder mystery novel.

Any final editing and revisions that occur during the writing of a murder mystery fiction novel…are done through the precise work of intelligent agency…through the artistic creative good-sense and judgment of the book author and the book publishing editors…and not through some accidental, random-chance, mindless process.

These minor editing changes that are made may involve spelling error corrections…or the replacement of a few words here and there with other words that are better…or some improvements in sentence structure in a few locations.

But major changes to the plotline that alter the essence of the story…such as a new plot-twist added to the end of the story…or a new ending altogether to the book as to who committed the murder(s)…requires a wholesale rewrite of the text that involves new paragraphs, entire new pages, and possibly the replacement and addition of whole new chapters…that then require the input of intelligence at the highest level of literary creative design…equal in quality to the rest of the book.

The nonsensical idea of introducing blind, unguided, trial-and-error, accidental changes to the text in the form of random individual letters and words inserted within the final three chapters…chapters in-progress or in the completed, rough first-draft stage…of an Agatha Christie murder mystery novel…as a substitute method to intelligent literary creative design…to arrive at the best possible story ending…is not feasible in terms of the required long-term time investment or the potential failure to reach the optimum outcome.

Any purely mechanical approach of blind editing using individual letters and words…one at a time…in an unguided series of random-chance, accidental changes…would introduce a near infinite possible combinatorial space of nonsensical gibberish…a sea of meaningless letters and spaces…of failed attempts…surrounding the one best island of meaningfully arranged words and punctuation comprising a functional ending to the story…lost in this sea of chaos.

The absurdity of Agatha Christie sitting down at her laptop computer (or typewriter) with eyes closed…randomly hitting keys for several hours each day in the hope of producing an ending to one of her books…is immediately apparent to us as a fruitless and poorly thought-out search strategy that would never result in a brilliant ending to a murder mystery fiction novel…not in her lifetime or the combined lifetimes of a team of writers randomly pounding-out accidental keystrokes to help her find the perfect story ending.

The artistic and financial goal is to create highly specified information that comprises…in this example…a murder mystery book with an unanticipated and suspense-filled climax to the end of the story…of who committed the crime.

Book writers…who must earn a living from writing…do not use a mindless and unguided approach to producing their literary works…for the obvious reason that their own literary creative design and imagination is “at their fingertips” and within reach…in-the- moment with numerous ideas swirling around inside their heads…and do not have the time or the economic motivation to waste decades utilizing a random-chance search strategy in pursuit of their next great book.

What is instantly clear to us in this example…is that nothing replaces human intelligence in creatively writing a murder mystery book.

What is instantly clear to us is that the ending to a murder mystery fiction novel…has an extremely narrow target…in both the storyline itself, but also in the high skill level the book author utilizes in their arrangement of words and sentences…that tells the optimum story using pace, characterization, and most of all…suspense…that will keep us up late at night reading their book.

No matter how well-crafted are the first completed three-quarters or four-fifths of the murder mystery book…an accidental, random-chance, trial-and-error search strategy will never produce the final two to three chapters of the story ending…to create a spell-binding, New York Times best-selling novel and a lucrative, movie deal spin-off.

What is also apparent after reflection…is that a purely random search strategy of blindly hitting computer keystrokes…is that along the way toward finding the final two chapters to the murder mystery book…what might instead pop-out is an unwanted comedic story ending…or the ending to an American western with the good cowboys chasing after the bad cowboys…or the ending to a romance, or a historical biography, or a cold-war spy novel.

A search strategy based upon random-chance by definition has no pre-determined or premeditated end-point goal…and cannot use foresight to direct the process to get there.

This has a huge and fundamental application to an understanding of a popular defense of the Bible and Christianity today.

Changing gears…changing the subject for the moment…when some people…who were friends and acquaintances of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary living in the small village-town of Bethany near to Jerusalem…went to report to the Pharisees and scribes after witnessing Jesus raise the dead Lazarus back to life after being four days in a stone covered cave tomb (Jn. 11:1-46)…the worldview philosophy of the Pharisees and scribes of self-sovereignty was surprisingly so strong and overpowering…it completely overwhelmed and nullified the otherwise startling news that a real person…Lazarus…that many people in Jerusalem knew…had been dead four days and brought back to life…by the mere calling out of His clearly heard loud voice toward Lazarus in the rock tomb to come forth…by the preacher and miracle-worker Jesus of Nazareth (Jn. 11:4).

If this incredibly earth-shattering news…of truly monumental and paramount importance above all other imaginable considerations…of the bringing back to life from the dead of a well-known person in a town close to Jerusalem…that could not have been otherwise falsely staged or fabricated…if this one final event did not create some amount of inquisitive faith in…some positive, questioning curiosity about Jesus amongst the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers of the law (Mt. 3:7-12)…then nothing would (Jn. 12:9-11).

If people can look straight at the evidence of the supernatural power to raise people from the dead…an occurrence and a capacity commonly unknown and unseen in all of human history…fantastic in relation to everyday normalcy…and not recognize in Jesus a divine quality they had previously missed…then what would it take in the form of further evidence…to let go of their complete self-reliance…to re-think their lives (Mt. 9:12-13)…and become open to engaging honestly with Jesus Christ as to His true identity…and to transfer faith in themselves alone over to placing some faith in Jesus Christ (Jn 3:1-21, 19:38-40)…as all beginning, newly born-again Christians do?

The stubbornly blind, knee-jerk adherence to their worldview philosophy of self-sovereignty…of being completely in-charge of their lives…of mistakenly thinking they could save themselves independently of God through the works of the law (Gal. 2:16, 3:5-14, 4:5, 5:4)…amazingly prevented these religious elites and political rulers in Jerusalem of being able to see the clearly divine capacity of Jesus in raising Lazarus from the dead…or at the very least acknowledging Jesus as a great prophet worthy of their serious consideration (Lk. 24:19).

Changing gears again…because Charles Darwin proposed an entirely naturalistic, non-theistic program for the origin of species and the vast diversity of life…having no guidance, foresight, or premeditated end-point targets coming by way of the aid of an intelligent designer God…a God outside of nature…by choosing this route Darwin created an extremely narrow tightrope to walk for the theoretical extrapolation of microevolution to macroevolution.

In the theory of macroevolution, Darwin said that the genetic changes that produced variant traits that could be chosen by natural selection…to enhance reproduction and survivability…and to explain the origin of species and the diversity of life…had to be very small and numerous genetic changes…accumulated and coherently integrated through the power of natural selection…over long periods of time.

The changes that generated the origin of new species and created the vast diversity of life…according to Darwinism…had to be small and numerous…because large physical changes…single big leaps forward in development…called saltations…would be tantamount to miracles…thus inviting an intelligent designer God back into the mix…the opposite of the purely naturalistic explanation for the origin of new species that Darwin was proposing.

To have a purely naturalistic explanation for the origin of new species and the diversity of life…to bring the field of biology into the realm of empirically accessible, modern scientific study…the theory of macroevolution must walk the narrow tightrope between small enough changes…micro bite-sized so that some naturalistic mechanism could produce them through chance or necessity rather than theistic creation…yet not so large in noticeably physical variant traits being put out for natural selection to choose from…that would require miraculous assemblages of differing genetic variations…that would fall outside of chance or some other chance-necessity based mechanism to produce…thus invoking the need for intelligent design.

Darwin’s method…his naturalistic mechanism of accidental mutations of genetic variations putting out variant traits chosen by natural selection…to produce the vast diversity we observe in the living world…must in essence remove the intelligent designer element altogether of the murder mystery book author Agatha Christie…and instead place our book writing and editing hopes entirely upon the capacity of blind, unguided, random-chance, trial-and-error, accidental insertions of non-sequenced, incoherent, and meaningless letters and spaces…to eventually over time produce a brilliant and captivating ending to the murder mystery book…my illustrative analogy to the brilliance of nature that we as humans can also read.

One point here is that the immense difficulty in achieving a plausible explanation for the diversity of life…using small enough changes to be able to stay within non-theistic, naturalistic mechanisms…from the origins of the first life on earth around 3.5 billion years ago to the present day…being diligently sought after by scientists now for 160 years without success…all to advance biology as an empirically accessible, scientific field of study…and to avoid altogether the intrusion of the intelligent design factor of theistic creation…is actually equal to or more difficult in terms of mathematical improbability than the nonsensical example of the author Agatha Christie sitting at her computer with eyes closed…randomly hitting keystrokes in the hope of producing an ending to one of her murder mystery fiction novels. [1]

The random alteration of some amino acids around the outside perimeter of a medium-sized protein molecule…performed in controlled scientific experiments in laboratories to determine how difficult it is to produce a new functional protein by chance…results in a finding…that due to the unimaginably complex properties of attraction and repulsion of amino acids that produces the highly specified folding into the correct three-dimensional shapes of functional proteins…this prohibits the easy exchange of one amino acid for another in a medium-sized 150-amino acid protein…an easy exchange crucial to the plausibility of a chemical evolution process in support of the notion of genetic mutations generating the vast diversity of life…of being the engine behind the origin of new species.

This difficulty of producing new functional proteins through the chance substitution of amino acids…in a scientific laboratory…is mathematically equal to or more improbable than Agatha Christie successfully using blind and unguided small revisions to the final two or three chapters in her murder mystery book And Then There Were None…with eyes closed typing random keystrokes on her computer keyboard.

The exceedingly low probability chance of making a random transition from one functional protein to another functional protein…by replacing a few amino acids with other amino acids at the outside perimeter of one successfully folded, functional protein to create a new protein…is one successful chance out of failed attempts.[2]

If the Darwinian program falls apart at the level of the difficulty of protein folding inside living cells…in an area of study that we can empirically test unequivocally in a scientific laboratory…then the entire program of macroevolution falls apart at this crucial lynch-pin of connection…in the sequential explanatory mechanism of how macroevolution supposedly works.

The current origin-of-life scientific research enterprise has also hit a decades-long dead-end…in attempting to come up with some explanation for how life could have made the huge leap from inanimate materials to the simplest life-forms around 3.5 billion years ago…as the earth cooled enough to allow life to begin.

The jump from no life to the “simplest” single cell bacteria would require new genetic information to create at a minimum a large number of DNA, RNA, protein, and amino acid molecules…along with the complex molecular machinery inside the living cell to be able to survive and to reproduce itself…and the ability to evolve over time into higher life-forms…all through the mechanism of mindless, unguided, trial-and-error genetic mutations putting out variant traits chosen by natural selection.

This is comparable to the murder mystery book writer sitting at their laptop computer with eyes closed…randomly hitting keystrokes in the hope of producing a best-selling book through random-chance.

The first important point of this essay is that…when some modern scientists confidently assert that Darwinian evolution is a fact…in their books…they are doing so not as a result of the empirically factual evidence…but as a product of their worldview.

 

[1] Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: HarperOne, 2009): 215-228, esp. 215-219.

[2] Douglas Axe, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed (New York: HarperOne, 2016): 57-59.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

The Perfect Savior 2

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”                                                              (Heb. 11:1)

To close out the book, as I read the biblical narrative stories of faith in both the Old and New Testaments…I see basically two things happening in terms of journey of faith life-scripts, direction in the lives of Christians, eternal purpose and meaning, and God speaking to us.

The first is the calling of people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Peter, and Paul…who had major promises of God…or very clear missions, goals, or final outcomes to aim for…given to them by God as guidance and hope-filled inspiration at the very beginning of their difficult and challenging journeys of faith.

We naturally tend to write-off these spectacular callings as if they only apply to the superstars of the Bible…too far above our experience to be a viable pattern to apply to our own lives…on a much lesser scale.

Becoming the “father of faith,” becoming the governor of Egypt, liberating the Israelite slaves from Egypt, conquering militarily the Promised Land, becoming king in Israel, rebuilding the walls and the temple in Jerusalem, and becoming the premier Christian evangelists to the Greco-Roman world in the first-century…these are things that seem too big for most of us…and therefore the concept of the displacement of our ways by God’s higher ways in conformity to the cross of Christ…and the gap that is created in a God-composed adventure of faith life-script having a humanistically unattainable goal according to the definition of faith described so brilliantly in Hebrews 11:1…can both be lost in the magnitude and grandeur of the callings of the storylines of these biblical characters.

These displacement and gap elements in the biblical narrative stories of faith could hypothetically seem to raise the bar…the standard…too high for the average Jew in Old Testament times…and the average Christian (Jewish Christian or Gentile) in New Testament times.

The recognition of the displacement of our ways with God’s higher ways and thoughts…and the gap in a journey of faith that separates what we can do from what we cannot do…setting up the context for genuine biblical faith to actualize…this could potentially cause an anticipation and expectation problem for many Christians who are faithfully following God and going about their normal Christian practices of prayer, reading and studying the Bible, being active in fellowship with other Christians, and sharing their faith with others…simply because God has not spoken directly to them regarding a specific calling upfront like the examples of the major biblical characters listed above.

But the second thing that I see that is happening in the Bible…probably more often…is that God also works unseen in people’s lives who are trying to be faithful and do the right things…even though God does not at first reveal directly to them…by speaking to them in the Spirit…a major promise, mission, or goal upfront at the very beginning of their journey of faith.

This second type of biblical character can see God’s hand at work over time in hindsight…part-way through their journey of faith…or looking backwards after it has finished and all the dust has settled.

Examples of this type of experience with God…in the biblical narrative stories of faith…might include Ruth, Hannah, Esther and Mordecai, the three Hebrew young men in the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, and the ten apostles other than Peter and Judas Iscariot.

Ruth is interesting in this regard…in that she does not even know that by marrying Boaz, she has become part of the royal line that produces the future King David in direct line to Jesus Christ the Son of God…born far ahead in the future in the first-century A.D.  How could God…in this case…reveal more information to Ruth in-the-moment…without possibly jeopardizing giving away the future plans of God for mankind in the kingship of David and the royal line leading to Jesus the Son of God and eternal King in heaven?

In fact, I think that every positive biblical character did not have a full and complete understanding of the unique and critical role they played in the unfolding saga of God’s eternal plans and destiny for mankind.

It is safe to say that there is not a single person on the planet today that has a complete macro and micro grasp of the higher ways and thoughts of God.

The point I want to make here…as has been repeated many times throughout this book…is that as Abraham gets his calling from God to go from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…with each step that Abraham takes God is displacing whatever normative plans Abraham might have otherwise had back in Haran…with a new life-script beyond anything Abraham could or would have dreamed up…beyond anything Abraham could self-compose, contrive, or self-orchestrate.

This worldly unconventional element of displacement of our ways with God’s higher ways…illustrated in the biblical narrative stories of faith according to the two general patterns described above…of callings large and small…embedded within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts starting with the detailed and highly specific life-story calling of Abraham and continuing throughout the Bible all the way through to the New Testament first-century…down to our current “church age”…is in my view as big as anything else in the history of mankind.

This is as big as the discovery by Copernicus that the earth revolves around the Sun, or Einstein’s theory of general relativity, or the discovery of Edwin Hubble of the Big Bang expansion of the universe, or the discovery of antibiotic medicines to combat disease, or our discovery and understanding of DNA…the “language of life.”

This biblical concept is as big as the American Declaration of Independence…the American Constitution…the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery…the women’s suffrage movement…and the victory over despotic tyranny during World War II.

This biblical concept of the displacement of our ways with God’s ways…and the gap we see in genuine biblical faith between what we can do and what we cannot do on our own…integral and fundamental to a journey of faith following Jehovah in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament…is as big as the discovery by Martin Luther that “the just shall live by faith” rather than works-salvation through pilgrimages, relics, and indulgences…and the monumental realization that common people should have access to the Bible translated into their own languages…that started the Protestant Reformation.

The concept that the living God…the brilliant Creator of the universe…can play a pivotal role…indeed take the lead in crafting and shaping a journey of faith for each one of us…that bears the stamp of divine imagination and innovative creativity in being one-hundred percent contrary to the opposite worldview of pursuing…on our own…our self-validation and acceptance according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…entirely outside of the zone of human literary invention…how can this eternally valuable and applicable biblical concept not be as large or larger than any other concept or event in the history of mankind?

1 John 2:17 reads: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

I hope this book has been a blessing, an inspiration, and an encouragement to you.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Some Closing Thoughts…One

“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)

A part of me wishes there was a smoother coordination and integration of the perfection of God’s plan for my life…with the very real question of the fallibility of my half of the performance…in a current crisis.  A part of me wishes it was not necessary to exercise overcoming faith in God’s ability to help close the gap…the remaining distance to cover…while the particular current life challenge is still up in the air and in doubt.

A part of me unrealistically wishes that in a biblical-quality adventure of faith there was a much lower risk of failure…with all of its negative consequences…and that a journey of faith incorporated less faith and a greater reliance upon the safe and more familiar route of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that the leap across the gap from worldly conventional self-reliance…to unconventional risky faith in God…was not so great.

A part of me wishes that the reality of the Christian life in the dangerous zone of faith…did not from time-to-time bring me again to the seemingly impassable banks of the expanse of the Red Sea, being hotly pursued by Pharaoh’s chariot army, needing God’s divine deliverance to part the waters and to create a safe passage forward…to surrender all…to let go of my ways…to drift freely in the waters of the present uncertain circumstances…trusting in the promises of God to see me across and safely out the other side.

Every Spirit-born Christian today…every foreign missionary, every pastor, every street evangelist, every called-out person engaged in one form or another of Christian outreach ministry…can relate to this on some level (2 Cor. 4:7).

But the reality is that there has to be the profound test of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ before there can be the glorious triumph of the resurrection.  There has to be the component of a deep despair…for the disciples…in the seemingly catastrophic failure in the death and burial of Jesus Christ…before there can be a God-engineered outcome of colossal, world-shaking proportions in the resurrection three days later.

The enormous contrast between the death on the cross and the LIFE in the resurrection…like that between the darkest starless night and the brightest summer day…creates the separation…the gap…between the low-level of mediocrity of worldly conventional aspirations, and the elevated ways of God leading to life-transforming salvation in the highest and broadest sense…beyond human imagination (Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Pet. 1:3; Jn. 8:24).

The resurrection of Christ…and the Day of Pentecost…radically changed the disciples from being fearful and defeated by the appearance of negative circumstances…to becoming courageously uninhibited, roaring lions of the new Christian faith.  This powerful transformation that “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) comes from a divinely created territory of experience…an elevated domain of reality…that is far, far above the life of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

The better half of me does not want my God-composed journey of faith life-script to be merely about God automatically coming through to successfully provide me with the secure mediocrity of worldly conventional normalcy.

The better and more courageous half of me wants my biblical-quality adventure of faith following Jesus Christ…to reveal to me a living God who is brilliantly smart enough to channel the events of my life towards a meaningful purpose and outcome that has the power of the resurrection and the triumph of the premeditated foresight of God …written all over it.

The better half of me does not want my life to be a throw-away life…a disposable life…does not my life to go according to my limited and shortsighted will and way…controlled by the strong desire for comfort and security rather than adventure and discovery.

This then involves an information-rich journey of faith…an infusion of complex and highly specific information into my life-script…and thus requires that my own plans and schemes must get out of the way.

No one could or would make this up.  It is beyond human imagination or invention.  If fiction…if false…it would not even get to “first base” in baseball.  If an airplane, it would “crash and burn” on take-off…falling apart before it can get off the ground…if it did not in truth have the corresponding participation of the living God.

Without divine foresight and premeditated planning…a journey of faith would be like trying to assembly an airplane while in flight.  A journey of faith following God must be perfect at its inception…before take-off…before the perils and adventure of flight.

Without divine participation…a journey of faith simply does not work.  A journey of faith with a fictional God who does not exist…is a nonsensical literary impossibility…a non-starter.

More than anything the better half of me (Rom. 7:15-25) wants to discover that God knows what He is doing…and I am willing (keeping in mind the lesson of Peter’s statement of Matthew 26:33) to pay any price in my journey of faith now to obtain this priceless discovery (Mt. 13:44-46).

I think this may become the universal, motivating theme of every Spirit-born Christian in the challenging events of the upcoming end-times (Acts 2:17-21; Joel 2:28-29).

Abraham’s adventure of faith is not about staying comfortably behind in worldly conventional complacency in the city of Haran.

Moses is not sent to Egypt with the mission to merely procure better living and working conditions for the Israelites there.  Moses is commissioned with the monumental task of delivering an entire nation of peoples out from under the despotic control of a worldly-savvy and tyrannical Pharaoh…a wholly complete salvation out of the horizontally mediocre existence the Egyptians had incorrectly determined for the Israelite slaves.

This salvation deliverance is as worldly unconventional as is imaginable…on a colossal scale…and fore-glimpses the equally complete and thorough salvation deliverance from the bondage in sin (Mk. 15:38)…that the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ provides through faith in Him.

The difficult and challenging training regime set-up by God for Joseph…for Joseph at the time puzzlingly contrary to his two earlier prophetic dreams back in Canaan…culminates in an unanticipated “resurrection” from Pharaoh’s prison to instantly becoming the governor over the land of Egypt during the great famine.

When all of the pieces of Joseph’s life finally come into clear focus as his half-brothers stand before him in Egypt, the realization of God’s guiding hand even amidst all of the many heartbreaks and set-backs…causes Joseph to publically break down into uncontrollable weeping (Gen. 45:1-2).

The discovery that God knew what He was doing all along…that it all made sense in hindsight towards a brilliantly conceived outcome…meant everything to Joseph within his adventure of faith.

The biblical pattern is always first the confronting of a seemingly overwhelming crisis requiring picking up our cross…followed by a divinely crafted resolution of the crisis by God…making a narrow way…opening up an unseen door…best described in New Testament terms as a life-transforming “resurrection” that builds faith, confidence in God, and renewed determination to carry on.

The cross and the resurrection skillfully interwoven into these ancient biblical stories of faith…not only serve as a model for hope as we press forward in our own unique adventures of faith…but also serve as a powerful apologetic argument for the authenticity of the divine origin of these stories that contain cross-of-Christ themes that are beyond human contrivance to manipulate…or even beyond human literary imagination to invent.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was beyond the hopeful and faith-filled contemplation of the early Christian disciples between Passover Friday evening and the following Easter Sunday morning three days later…for a very good reason.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are higher than our ways.

If it were not so…if God is incapable of opening up the Red Sea or of raising Jesus from the dead…then there is no hope of salvation, deliverance, and redemption in this fallen world…we are then doomed to the foibles and caprice of self-sovereign self-rulership.

In our heart-of-hearts we would not want salvation to be any other way…any less powerful…any less real…even when it comes with the high cost of setting aside worldly conventional normalcy in favor of a risk-filled adventure of faith…in order to obtain all of the benefits of salvation (Col. 3:1-3).

The calling of the first-century Christian was not to settle into a complacent, conventional normalcy in Jerusalem after Pentecost.  The calling of the early Christian church was to boldly proclaim the utterly unconventional gospel message of salvation, energized by the spectacular, paradigm-shifting resurrection of Jesus from the dead…a momentous event of such transforming power that it enabled the first Christians to essentially change the world…from that time going forward.

The resurrection…that Jesus Christ is risen…is the God-engineered epiphany that energizes all Christian callings and missions.

A resurrection requires the painful and disruptive reality of the cross…not worldly conventional normalcy.  The power of the resurrection in our lives…that only God can perform…adds the meaning, purpose, direction, and fulfillment to our lives that will climb any mountain, cross any sea, endure any hardship, and overcome all obstacles as we follow Jesus Christ.

This is the ingenious record of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible from beginning to end…supernatural to the core.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.