Visual Proof does not Naturally Translate into a Biblical-Quality Journey of Faith 1

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.”                                                                                                   (1 Cor. 2:7)

If Jesus a few days after the resurrection walked down the middle of Main Street and right into the Temple in Jerusalem…then like doubting Thomas…all of the common people along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes could examine His wounds and observe His resurrected new body…and accept as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of God.

But accepting the visual evidence…producing absolute knowledge like two plus two equals four…or the existence of the noonday sun…in accepting the empirical evidence that Jesus is the divine Son of God…this is not the same thing as being willing to follow Him.

This is like people saying to the recognized king of the realm: “We know that you are the rightful king, but we will not follow you into battle…because we do not think you are a qualified military leader.”

The Pharisees and scribes would have looked at the resurrected Jesus…talked with Him…examined His healed wounds…and then said: “Great…good for you…nothing has changed in our minds as a result of this newest miracle of yours…we still choose not to follow you…we refuse to enter in at the ‘narrow gate’ (Mt. 7:13-14) you mentioned in your Sermon on the Mount…we will continue to do religion the way we have set it up…to mix old traditions with going our own way…to suit ourselves” (Isa. 53:6).

Absolute knowledge by visual, empirical observation does not address the basic problem…does not displace, remove, or shift the mindset of self-sovereignty…of autonomous individualism…over into the God-sovereignty of a biblical-quality walk of faith.

Jesus walking into the Temple in Jerusalem after His resurrection…offering absolute proof of His divinity in physically rising from the dead…surprisingly does not change…by force of reason alone…the inner man…and does not equate to everyone freely choosing to make Him Lord and Master of their lives.

After the resurrection…revealing Himself to the Pharisees and scribes would not have produced biblical faith…defined as willingly allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways…as ancient in Jewish history as the calling of Abraham to leave Haran and go to Canaan…as basic to Judaism as it gets…and fundamental to the Christian concept of picking up our cross to follow Jesus.

Visual, empirical observation of the resurrected Jesus by the religious elites and the general populace in Jerusalem…a few days after Easter morning…does not translate into Hebrews 11:1 faith to surrender all…to abandon self-sovereignty…and to follow Jesus Christ into an adventure of faith through life…to match the examples of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah…to name a few from the Hebrew Bible…the Christian Old Testament…which sets forth the examples of the lives of faith which should have been commonplace…the norm for Jewish living at the time of the ministry of Jesus in first-century Israel.

Like our free-will choice to love someone…our choosing to follow God…by purposeful, intentional, divinely creative design…will always be a free-will, take-it-or-leave-it, open option of the heart and mind…in first-century Jerusalem, in the present-day, and for all eternity in heaven.

This is the remarkably sublime beauty of the free-will, free-thinking, moral reasoning, risky from God’s standpoint, non-robots that God created humans to be…with or without absolute, visual, empirically foolproof evidence of God’s existence (Jn. 20:29).

The spiritual mystery of self-autonomous rebellion…of pushing God aside and out of our lives…is therefore one of the key moral issues under examination in this life and this broken world.

A person does not have to be a scholar to see in the Bible and to experience first-hand…that God initially takes people having hidden potential…yet at the start of their calling are broken, lost, and aimless in life (Mt. 9:10-13)…and through the divinely supportive respect and acceptance over time of salvation, redemption, and the life-altering insertion of a God-composed adventure of faith…aided and energized by the Holy Spirit…turns them into something vastly better than they could have previously imagined.

This is one of the main themes of the Bible.  Some people will accept God’s lead and follow Him into their destinies…others will push God away and follow their own course.

This in itself should be a telling argument against the random-chance naturalism of self-sovereign worldly conventional thinking…by virtue of the sheer inexplicability…of the origin of the concept of biblical faith…of God displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts…and its persistent longevity over thousands of years.

Naturalistic materialism…if true…should produce one homogeneous human mindset…either self-sovereignty or God-sovereignty…one lifestyle habit per creature type…like the rest of the living world.

This should tell us…that as human beings…we are different (Gen. 1:26-27).

The complexity of the information content, the innovative originality of the main concepts, and the utter crash and collision with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…makes a compelling commonsense apologetic case for the divine origin of the journeys of faith recorded in the Bible…above, beyond, and outside of humanistic literary invention.

This is the easier half in answering the question of why Jesus did not walk down Main Street and into the Temple a few days after His resurrection…which would have changed the dynamics of a journey of faith following Jesus Christ…instead into the type of absolute, visual, foolproof evidence that atheists and skeptics demand…but which fall short in establishing a personal relationship.

The hard part in analyzing the wisdom behind the delicate balance between belief and unbelief in this current world environment…is as follows.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…John 11:45-48 reads:

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

48 If we let him alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

The religious elites in Jerusalem decided to continue worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…self-autonomous self-rulership…by sacrificing Jesus Christ…by removing Him out of the way.

This is expressed in John 11:49-50:

49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all.

50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

Caiaphas said this in order to perpetuate the status quo…to continue worldly conventional normalcy and thinking as it existed at that time and place…and not at all for the initiating or the maintaining of biblical-quality journeys of faith…which the early church would soon step into and demonstrate to the world shortly (Acts 8:4)…”turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

The Greatest Person 2

At the cross of Calvary, God did not focus upon bank fraud, bank robbery, stock market fraud, stage-coach robbery, the stealing of funds from the Jerusalem temple treasury, election voter fraud, the breaking of campaign finance laws, or any other imaginable common crimes…past or present.

Murder, theft, adultery…these were not the topics at issue at Calvary…although all of these…along with all of the sins of mankind… were absorbed by Jesus Christ on the cross.

The main concept at issue on the cross…that God was focusing upon…was going our own way.

It is recorded in Matthew 27:39-43:

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.  If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others; himself he cannot save.  If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God.

As the Pharisees and scribes are taunting Jesus to come down from the cross, they are in essence saying: “Come down…form an army…attack and defeat the Romans like King David of long ago…and commence the rule and reign of peace anticipated of the Messiah…and fix our world now according to our ways and thinking.”

But Jesus is not coming down from the cross to create a worldly salvation…not for the present moment…not at that time.

As the skies overhead darken…and the earth begins to gently rumble…at odds on Calvary Hill is the starkest contrast between going our own way versus the non-rebellious, perfect unity-of-purpose consistent within the Godhead of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…the perfect performance of God-sovereignty in action.

The very thing that qualifies Jesus the Son of God to be the King of Israel in fact and in actuality…is what keeps Him faithfully up on the cross…taking our place on the cross for our benefit…without a scintilla of the self-centered pride that would otherwise want to “save face” in-the-moment…to remove the disgrace of being taunted and mocked…while fulfilling His unique mandate and office of being the Passover Lamb of God.

At the cross on Calvary Hill…nearly two-thousand years ago…God Himself articulates the most important concept at issue in all of eternity…namely: Why look upward to Jesus hanging on the cross for a role model…demonstrating utter failure in terms of achieving the first-century Jewish equivalent of the American Dream…according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking?

Why not instead choose the Pharisees and scribes as our role models…as seemingly having won and secured their continued position in the world…standing around the cross and mocking Jesus for His apparent failure and soon-to-be-expected death?

For our modern culture today…this most sublime of questions…the choice between these two options…is as relevant and timely now as it was at Calvary two-thousand years ago.

Can Jesus Christ…the God/man on the cross of shame and disgrace…displaying perfect, sinless, consistent unity-of-purpose to the ancient plan of becoming the Passover Lamb of God atonement for mankind’s sins…performing perfectly within God-sovereignty in-line with His divine nature as the Son of God…can this Jesus Christ in utterly conventional failure while on the cross…three days before His resurrection…compose a better, purpose-filled, transcendent  life-script for each one of us…or not?

If we let the negative appearance of the failure of the cross…in-the-moment…dissuade us into thinking that Jesus cannot compose the optimum life-script for us…patterned after the biblical narrative stories of faith…that displaces our ways with God’s higher ways…and that the true optimum life is not and never was about achieving worldly success…then we will opt for the default choice of directing and managing our own lives according to the conventional worldview of going our own way.

If the love that a king has towards His subjects…turns into rejection of this love…by some people…based upon the concept of going our own way…of autonomous individualism apart from the rule and reign of the king…this rejection then turns into something altogether different…something darker at its extreme expression.

Autonomous individualism can turn into a type of chaos that threatens the peace and stability of the kingdom.

“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.”                                                                  (Jn. 15:24)

“They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.  Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.”                                (Jn. 8:39-40)

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”                               (Jn. 14:21-23)

The divine love that binds together the perfect unity-of-purpose within the Trinity is also the love that enlists us to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus into a God-composed journey of faith life-script…displacing our ways with God’s higher ways and thoughts…in a similar unity-of-purpose within our own unique callings and destinies.

This concept of God being in-charge of the course and destiny of our lives…for the sake of establishing unity-of-purpose within God-sovereignty…as previewed for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…is anathema to the humanistic worldview of autonomous individualism…of going our own way in self-achievement and self-validation.

The brilliantly separated dichotomy of Jesus on the cross…fulfilling perfectly His destiny as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…and the religious elites standing around the cross mocking Jesus for not being the King David deliverer of the nation of Israel suffering under Roman occupation…demonstrating the epitome of the contrasting worldview of going our own way according to the lights of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…is beyond the inventive imagination of human fiction writers.

The relevance and application of these ancient biblical stories of faith…especially the events surrounding the cross of Jesus Christ…are timeless not only because they cannot be repeated again in history…but also because they establish the highest standard for deep and profound truths…that cannot be improved upon…like the modernized remaking of old classic movies.

As our modern culture looks at Jesus on the cross…we either see the Master Scriptwriter living-out His eternal destiny as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…doing exactly what He is supposed to be doing…in the process securing everlasting life for those who will place their faith in Jesus Christ…or we see a worldly failure who will not prove His claim to be the Son of God…by coming down off the cross miraculously and performing like the Messiah that everyone expects…a failure that violates every tenet of the self-sovereignty of going our own way…outside of and separate from the eternal plans of God centered within God-sovereignty.

This is another compelling evidence for the divine origin of the Bible and Christianity…based upon the mere existence of this subtly deep conceptual divide between self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty.

Again, these biblical narrative stories of faith reveal the real truth about God.

The Greatest Person 1

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

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 they witnessed 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 well-known person…Lazarus…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 real person well-known in 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 Jesus…did not create an opening for the slightest measure of positive, inquisitive reevaluation about Jesus amongst the leading 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 a person 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 sole faith in themselves over to placing some measure of 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).

A key, instructive question should be asked here, which is: Why didn’t the Pharisees and scribes ask Jesus at numerous opportunities during His ministry…about topics such as the journey-of-faith of Abraham…or the patience of Joseph remaining steadfast in his extraordinary MBA training program leading up to becoming governor of Egypt during a great famine…or about the “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” component in David’s 23rd Psalm?

The reason that they did not ask Jesus these types of questions is that this was not a part of their worldview.

They were not themselves engaged in biblical-quality journeys of faith that would generate these types of questions.

The dead-giveaway that these religious elites in Jerusalem were not following their ancient Jewish heritage of experiencing walks of faith following the leading of their God Jehovah…after the pattern of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David…to name a few…is that they specifically asked questions of Jesus that belied their worldview of self-salvation through the performance of the “works of the law.”

The Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for healing people on the Sabbath…as if this was doing prohibited “work” on the restricted day of rest (Mt. 12:10).

They criticized Jesus for His disciples not washing their hands before eating (Mt. 15:2).

They criticized Jesus for associating with publicans and sinners (Mt. 9:11).

The Pharisees and scribes questioned the propriety of the disciples of Jesus picking (gleaning) ears of corn on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:2).

The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign from heaven to validate His claims (Mt. 12:38).

When Jesus made the statement that Abraham had seen His day and was glad…the Pharisees and scribes retorted with the question: “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (Jn. 8:57).

In John 10:24 it is recorded that the Pharisees and scribes ask Jesus: “How long dost thou make us to doubt?  If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Upon which Jesus reaffirms His position as the Son of God…the Good Shepherd…which again they reject.

The raising of the four-days-dead Lazarus should have moved them at least slightly towards the point of crediting the words and ministry of Jesus…yet this is not the case at all…culminating in the tragedy of the crucifixion of Jesus.

The Perfect Savior 2

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

If God is not internally consistent in this fundamental moral concept of freely choosing God-sovereignty over self-sovereignty…in Gethsemane and at Calvary…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…then justifiably God could not ask us to make the difficult, Holy Spirit assisted transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty in the course of our lives (Jn. 3:14-21)…of allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 46:9-10; Jn. 12:24)…to achieve in some measure in our lives this same divine unity-of-purpose (Jn. 17:21)…after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God identifies for us in the Garden of Gethsemane…that Jesus Christ is operating at the apex…at the highest pinnacle of morality and virtue…when God reveals with incredible honesty and candor His own difficulty…performed at the far outer-edge of virtuosity…the unique and singular challenge in all of time…past, present, and going forward into eternity…of offering Himself as the loving sacrifice for our sins…in order to restore our severed relationship with Him…on the highest terms of true and right justice yet at the greatest cost to Himself…the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection three days later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The brilliantly creative capacity of God to get His arms around the vast stretch of human experience…of Jesus maintaining consistent fidelity to God-sovereignty in the midst of the lowest failure and the highest success… allows every person of faith that accepts Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Tour Guide through this life…to get to know God personally from the least to the greatest…as prophesied roughly 2,600 years ago by the prophet Jeremiah…in anticipation of new covenant believers (Jer. 31:31-34) not offended by Jesus on the cross…all energized by God-sovereignty rather than being fueled by the pursuit of individual achievement according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This also provides us with a huge reveal…a unique and innovative tell…of the real truth about God.

The Perfect Savior 1

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

In all of the accounts of the intense opposition from the religious and political leaders…the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers…that Jesus reacts to as recorded in the four New Testament gospels…in His miraculous examples of healing and deliverance…of preaching to hundreds and thousands of people…in His interactions with His disciples and the common people…we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes and traits of virtue in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah…truth, honesty, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and uncompromising courage…to name a few…that give Jesus a grade of A-plus…of perfect 100-percent test scores across-the-board…within the broad array of moral concepts we can use as standards for judgment.

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

But the one area where we can…with solid confidence… conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection…above anything that any other human being has ever been able to achieve…is that Jesus Christ is living-out His God-composed life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin…to the outer limits of absolute perfection.

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

Every positive person of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…other than Jesus Christ…have God-composed life-scripts that take into account…that have built-in allowances for human error (Rom. 4:6-8)…for the fact that all of these people are morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous…morally imperfect like the rest of us…in the many categories of the broad array of moral concepts…but also in their inability to perfectly follow…without stumbling and bumbling at certain points along the way…within their God-composed life-scripts…in pursuit of their divinely created callings and destinies.

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

Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther and Mordecai, Ruth, Hannah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…none of these people are morally perfect and sinless…and their life-scripts are based upon Holy Spirit empowered grace-through-faith…and proceed according to their individually exceptional gifts and abilities…plus the creative imagination of God their Creator…as life-script Writer.

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

But the God-composed life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God…intentionally exploits and utilizes to the fullest His uniquely divine nature to the maximum extent…to be able to perfectly succeed in the one area wherein God knows we will have the most difficulty…the area that is the definition of sin…and that the cross on Calvary Hill focuses upon…the area of God-sovereignty versus self-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives…compared instead to going our own way in shortsighted self-rulership (Isa. 53:6).

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

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

The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42)…tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself…for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body…that manages to challenge Himself in the one humanly unreachable zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue…yet still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning…in the unconventionally inconceivable test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane…of God-sovereignty consistent and indivisible within God Himself…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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

This unimaginably unconventional development…of the testing of divinely sinless unity-of-purpose consistent between God the Father and Jesus the Son of God…of unerring fidelity to the one right course of action no matter how difficult it is or how high the cost…in the Garden of Gethsemane…separates out God-sovereignty as the most important and the highest of issues in all of reality…because all of the other moral concepts and virtues are secondarily derivative to the primary concept of God-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives…rather than going our own way as autonomous independent agents (Isa. 53:5-6).

God Has Our Back

“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”  (1 Cor. 2:10)

God has our back in a crisis.  The only way we would know this for sure is by actual experience…by being in the middle of a shooting war.

This has to be true…because it cannot be fiction.  It does not hold up as fiction.  Once it rises to the level of becoming recorded in writing…put down on paper…it enters the arena of being universally testable and falsifiable over time.

The interaction between the living God and David….memorialized forever in David’s 23rd Psalm…is true because it cannot be otherwise…it cannot be fictional writing.  Once David writes about walking through the valley of the shadow of death with God at his side…then fiction-writing as the source of its inspiration and origin becomes nonsensical.

The uniquely biblical concept of the living God participating in our lives to this extent of personal interaction…at the very center of our life-scripts…is too far outside of the default, conventional worldview thinking of sitting atop the thrones of our lives in self-sovereignty…to make the huge leap across to the other side of the spectrum in placing our lives on-the-line in sacrificially following…through a journey of faith…the living God.

According to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, David should be telling us how great and powerful he is…not about successful faith in God…because self-adulation surrounding his achievements would be the normally expected outer limits…the extent of his possible experience.

What would be the point…the motivation…the inspiration…for David making this Psalm 23 up…if the actual boundaries of human experience stop at the edge of self-sovereignty, self-reliance, and autonomous individualism?

Following God into an adventure of faith would not hold water…would not stand up…for any period of time within actual lived experience…unless God is real…and that we can experience His active participation in our lives.

Religious “faith” that is still rooted in self-reliance and self-rulership is not biblical faith.  Biblical faith will connect us with the real God…who according to the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…will displace our ways with a higher life-script that reflects His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).

This is the root of what was so threatening to the religious leaders in Jerusalem in the first-century that led to crucifying Jesus Christ…a line of reasoning revisited several times in more detail throughout this book.

The religious leaders in Jerusalem were exposed by Jesus as being blind hypocrites…as being fraudulent religionists.

They said they were the authorized representatives of God (Jn. 8:33, 39, 41) when in fact they were the deadliest enemies of applied biblical faith.

They were firmly committed to the default worldview of self-sovereign self-rulership…of maintaining complete control over their lives…to the point of instigating the death of Jesus through Roman crucifixion…in order to remove the threat of having to surrender this self-guided, self-sovereign status quo (Jn. 11:47-48).

They knew roughly about biblical faith…had been exposed to it as they studied the Hebrew Bible…but did not want any part of it themselves (Lk. 11:39-54).

This is a component of the “mystery” of iniquity…the conflict between self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty in our lives that produced the radical outcomes of the cross, the resurrection, and our salvation…which again is analyzed and discussed throughout this book…from many angles and in more detail.

The risk-factor involved in the novelty of voluntarily and willingly walking through a genuine journey of faith following the living God…is on its own a powerful and persuasive evidence that supports the divine origin of the Bible…because as human invented literary fiction…the concept of God-sovereignty displacing our self-sovereignty as imaginary fictional invention…cannot and would not exist for any length of time in real practice.

Minutes, hours, or days of actual tested experience would quickly expose this concept…if fiction…as empty fantasy…and be discarded as functionally worthless.

If God is in actuality “not home,” then His brilliantly imaginative solutions in the biblical narrative stories of faith…that soar above human creativity and invention…would not only be inaccessible as real experience…to be recorded as life-history on paper…they would also be beyond the creative imagination of human contemplation altogether.

David…or someone else inventing the 23rd Psalm…as fiction writing…has no motivational or conceptual legs to stand on…it does not take us anywhere within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

A real journey of faith following the living God…as recorded in the Bible…is inconceivable and incomprehensible to a person committed to following their own way according to self-rulership.

This dichotomy of worldviews…two different approaches to life as unmixable as oil and water…should be an obvious red-flag jolt to anyone involved in the debate over the existence of God.

The fundamental first question…like the causal explanation of the Big Bang (herein defined in this book as the divine creation of the universe ex nihilo …out of nothing…according to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning” around 13.7 billion years ago)…is what or who is the source of the completely novel and innovative, alternative worldview of a God-composed journey of faith life-script…starting with the life of Abraham…continued through all of the biblical narrative stories of faith?

What explains the origin of this consistent storyline pattern in the Bible…of  the cross of Christ (Lk. 22:42)…continuing down to contemporary Christian experience in our modern times…that is so utterly contrary to the conventionality of the accepted life-approach of going our own way in self-reliance and self-autonomy?

In modern speech…a biblical-quality adventure of faith…if it is fiction…if it is false…then it would be a “non-starter”…it would have no “there/there.”  It would be without tangible, supportive substance.

If there is no active engagement between God and people…then there is nothing extraordinary, unconventional, or supernatural to write about…nothing that could “get-off the ground” and sustain air-born flight.

This is why God-composed adventures of faith life-scripts…having God displacing our ways with His higher ways…are non-existent in other religions, philosophies, and worldviews…outside of the Bible.

This is why biblical adventures of faith fall far outside of and above the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

This dichotomy of two distinct worldviews…delineated exclusively in the Bible…and miles apart in their practical application to human purpose and meaning in life…is a major, commonsense apologetic argument for the divine origin of Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity.

It is never raised by atheists and skeptical critics…because they cannot even see it as a target to attack in scripture…as a debatable talking point.

It can only be raised by Spirit-born and Spirit-led Christians who have themselves been in the danger zone of faith in a “shooting war” that has real consequences in life…because people personally led and taught of God are the only people on the planet aware of this reality.

The idea that God-scripted life-plans fall so far outside of conventional thinking…is itself a compelling and persuasive argument for the truth of their divine origin…because this unique genre is inexplicable as humanistically invented, literary fiction.

If Christians do not see the unconventionality of the cross of Christ skillfully embedded within the script of every biblical narrative story of faith…because they have not experienced God having our back in a crisis…then this positive and compelling apologetic argument for the divine origin of an adventure of faith…completely unknown outside of the Bible…will not be made.

It will be missed in the competing marketplace of ideas.

This is the dual choice we all have…as cognitive beings having free-will…to follow God down an adventurous path of discovery…or to go our own way in self-lead, conventional normalcy and thinking.

The Real Truth about God 2

The biblical stories of faith are not about elevating individual people upward into being the focus of praise and adulation…but instead focus upon achieving something…a particular positive goal or task…not lifting up someone.

The positive characters in the biblical narrative stories of faith focus upon achieving the tasks at hand…which in-the-moment are bigger than themselves…requiring God’s help.

The biblical narrative stories of faith tell us that God’s ways are higher than our ways.

The end-point goal that God is aiming for…as demonstrated in the biblical narrative stories of Abraham through Paul…is not the acquisition of material wealth, popular acclaim, and financial security (Mt. 6:19-34)…not even the pursuit of basic survival in a difficult world…if that is our bottom-line, minimum definition of success…but something entirely different.

The end-point goal of God is higher…to compose and bring into being specifically tight life-scripts designed to benefit mankind…to fulfill to the highest extent the innate potential of those people called by God into their unique tasks, from the viewpoint of eternity…and at the same time to reveal to these people of faith and to the world-at-large…the real truth about God.

I have several books published on how to avoid making costly mistakes in building construction…through proactive debugging…yet not everyone buys these books, reads them, and puts this concept of advance personal preparation from the bottom upward…into practice.

Yet this divinely crafted experience about how to best acquire the raw data through first-person basic field research…in this case specifically on how to best manage construction jobsites…informs me about the real truth about God…that if our worldview priorities match the outlook of Hebrews 11:12-16…and we are willing to give God the benefit-of-the-doubt regarding His leadership skills to the point of picking up our cross to follow Him…then God can plan-out a course in our careers, our personal lives, and our ministries to the larger world…that far exceeds anything that we can or would come-up with on our own.

Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead the third day…to restore our relationship with God…to clean us up in terms of a new spiritual re-birth that creates the capacity for us to hear God’s voice…and to walk within a journey of faith…precisely so that the kingdom of God within us can not only prepare us for a future in the kingdom of Jesus Christ…but also so that God…through us…can fix a small part of the world around us to the extent of the outreach of our capacity and influence.

This tells us something about the real truth about God…which could not have originated through human literary fiction.

This concept…this worldview…of “seeking a country”…of “desiring a better country, that is, a heavenly”…could only originate from the God of the Bible who has the loving and brilliantly insightful capacity to prepare individual apprenticeships designed to prepare us for a future eternity in the kingdom of Jesus Christ…starting now with our lives here.

If this concept of God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts as articulated in the biblical narrative stories of faith…beautifully summarized in Hebrews 11:12-16…that establishes and highlights the worldview that this life is a preparation for the upcoming life in the kingdom of Jesus Christ…to desire a better, heavenly country while living and participating in this current world…this then exposes the contrasting opposite worldview of going our own way (Isa. 53:6) as the worst possible misdirection to take.

If one of the main goals and purposes of this life is to discover the real truth about God (Gen. 3:1-5; Ps. 32:8; Jer. 33:3; 1 Jn. 2:17)…then going our own way in autonomous individualism…will not get us there.

Through my career path in building construction…I discovered the reality of a God-composed journey of faith life-script…in which God knew through foresight the precise end-point to aim for…and was able to open the right doors at the right times to create the opportunities…to reach a final destination that I could not have planned or orchestrated on my own…with anywhere near the success that God’s higher ways and thoughts for my life achieved.

This has real-world application to the question raised earlier in the book about the relevance of the biblical narrative stories of faith…to our modern lives today.

The concept that God can compose life-scripts for us to prepare us for an eternity in the kingdom of Jesus Christ…and that as our Creator God He is the only person who could possibly know in advance the final end-point this preparation should aim at…is in every sense of the words…timeless, brilliant, and modern.

This concept of the higher ways and thoughts of God applied in our lives through God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts…tailored specifically to every person who will follow God in faith…lies at the heart of the real truth about God.

Finally, God does not want to control…to over-manage…our lives.  God created human beings with an incredible capacity for intellectual reasoning, moral judgment, and free-will choice.

The last thing God wants is for people to be like robots.

God simply has divine foresight…and resides at the top-most point on the vertical spectrum-line of absolute goodness and brilliant pure light.

God wants to joint-venture with us in a personal relationship.  The half that God brings into the relationship is His divine attributes of perfect love and divinely timeless foresight.

If God can see 15 years into the future for a 21-year old young man just starting his career in building construction…to inspire and inaugurate a program of observing, recognizing, and recording construction problems as they occur…with the long-range goal to be able one day in the future  to eliminate these problems proactively through the same quality of foreknowledge that God exhibits through divine foresight…demonstrated in the life-scripts in the biblical stories of faith…then God can do this for every imaginable career, calling, and life-plan “under the sun.”

God can insert the same divine quality of advance inspiration to the biochemist researcher looking for the cure for cancer…to the high school English teacher trying to find the best teaching method to inspire her students…to the defense attorney to find the best legal argument to acquit his innocent client…to the stay-at-home mom raising three children looking for the optimum approach to being at the top of her game as multi-tasker in-chief.

If God is this “savvy” and “with-it” to know about the unmined and untapped area of debugging building construction…to set-up a program for me to begin observing and recording this obscure information years before I would actually need it as a jobsite superintendent…then God is also current, proactive, and relevant for every other imaginable career and enterprise.

This is a small part…yet a well-defined insight…into the real truth about God.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”   (Heb. 13:8)

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”                                                                    (Jn. 10:10)

The Real Truth about God 1

In my preparation to become a field superintendent in building construction…my chosen career…I spent a large portion of my early-to-middle twenties working in as many different building trades as I could…such as residential framing, finish carpentry, remodeling, residential drywall, commercial drywall, commercial lather on a 22-story high-rise in downtown Los Angeles, mason’s tender on the masonry block portion of the construction of a supermarket store, and laborer on a large department store in a shopping center in Homestead, Florida, for three months during my summer break in junior college.

From ages twenty-eight to thirty-one I broadened my experience by working three years in residential construction customer service for a large builder…first as a repair-person and then as head of the department.

I then furthered the advance preparation of “paying my dues”…of “learning my craft”…by working as an assistant superintendent for two and one-half years in production tract housing…before becoming a superintendent in my middle thirties…completing a bachelor’s degree in construction management at age 38 by attending night classes.

Because my goal from the beginning was to become a construction field superintendent…during these years as a tradesman, in customer service, and as an assistant superintendent…I took detailed notes and made rough sketches of what to do and what not to do as a jobsite superintendent…to be able to influence the work…at key milestone points…to run more smoothly and as error-free as possible.

These notes and sketches became the material for four books published by McGraw-Hill (1995-98)…on how to avoid problems, crashes, and collisions between the various building components…in housing construction…which I began writing and illustrating at age thirty in 1982.

This is not unlike many careers where people “work their way up from the bottom” in order to learn their craft…before moving up into a supervisory/leadership position.

I should disclose here that I became a Christian at age 18…and received a very clear and supernaturally confirmed calling two years later…to become a construction superintendent…which would take-up too much space here to describe adequately and in detail.

My personality is such that I would describe myself as being a rather slow and deliberate thinker.  I usually need to “go once around the block” before I figure things out…in nearly everything in life.  I am not an instantly “savvy” or “with-it” person by nature…needing first to experience or observe something in action before it clearly “sinks in.”

I would guess that this is true for many people.

The inspired approach of making an early investment of first-hand, varied building trades experience upfront…worked well for me…because when the time came to be a full superintendent in charge of my own projects…I had developed a good sense of how to proactively think-ahead to organize and schedule the work.

But equally important, I had also built-up over the years a personal database of close to two-thousand problems and issues to avoid…which if eliminated upfront through constructability analysis and by using detailed checklists sequenced to each successive phase of the work…removed these subtle debugging problems altogether before they had a chance to enter unnoticed by stealth into the construction…which otherwise would create the seemingly inescapable, repetitive daily syndrome of “putting-out-fires” that plagues the jobsite management of many new construction projects.

How this all relates to this book about the real truth about God…is that this approach of advance preparation toward a very specific and well-defined future goal…in my work career…also informs part of my understanding of the underlying purposes and intentions of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…demonstrated in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

Most importantly…this informs a unique worldview having purpose, meaning, and hope for human life…that when understood in its novel, elevated, and unconventional aspects…turns out to be light-years ahead of any atheistic, naturalistic philosophy for life.

If our very short-length lives here are intended to be an experiential preparation for the upcoming reality of eternal life in the kingdom of Jesus Christ…this then turns upside-down all standardized priorities within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Mt. 6:33).

It more accurately defines the true spirit of God-composed journeys of faith.  It more accurately defines the essence of the Christian life.

Some of the most unconventional, non-worldly verses in the Bible…that describe the elevated outlook of the people engaged within their God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts…can be found in Hebrews 11:12-16:

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts are intended by God to create the context for the advance preparation of Spirit-born Christians to enter into the kingdom of Jesus Christ…now and in the heavenly world to come…by being part of the active solution of fixing specific and wide-ranging problems here in this world…sometimes solely and simply by becoming a better person “in Christ” right where we find ourselves…through the divine foresight, insight, and premeditated planning of God.

This is what I experienced in my divinely orchestrated  apprenticeship in preparation to become a building construction superintendent…imperfectly performed by me at many points along the way…yet perfectly planned and managed by God in its conceptually insightful program…and in its uniquely innovative, final outcome.

Should the goal in life be to acquire material wealth, elevated social status, personal acclaim, and financial security…or should our goal be to walk within a journey of faith with God…allowing Him to reveal to us the talents and abilities He created within us…in unselfish service to other people and to the world-at-large…while leading us into the all truth of John 16:13 as preparation for eternal life in the upcoming kingdom of Jesus Christ?