The Gap that Creates the Space for a Knowledge of Good and Evil 1

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 Jn. 1:5)

It is time to consider a basic question…why can faith be so difficult for us?  Why is it faith of all possible things…that separates self-sovereignty from God-sovereignty…in determining the all-important course and direction of our lives?

Why does the Bible characterize placing faith in ourselves alone…as self-autonomous kings and queens sitting upon the thrones of our lives…as reprehensible…but instead placing faith in God within a journey of faith as righteousness (Heb. 11:7)…again a concept that is as far removed from the autonomous individualism of conventional thinking as is imaginable?

Why is faith the central element…the most important thing…in our personal relationship with God that is tested and put at risk…that is the bonding agent that connects us…that is being twisted and pulled and stretched by the challenging events and circumstances of our lives?

The issue of difficult challenge…inherent in a faith-journey following God…is a central theme in every positive person of faith throughout the Bible (Rom. 4:3; Ex. 3:11; Josh. 1:5-7; Jud. 6:14-17; Lk. 22:42; Acts 23:11; Heb. 11).

In our current cultural and social exploration into the question of the existence of God…the spot-on accuracy of the biblical description of the variableness of faith in our personal relationships…especially in a relationship following the leading of God…beginning thousands of years ago at the start of the book of Genesis…should give us momentary pause.

Is it rational and plausible to think that material particles and energy…according to the philosophy of naturalism…could conceivably be the source and origin of the incredibly complex value judgment system that is an inseparable part of the variableness of faith in our relationships with other people…and with our Creator God?

Does the sheer existence of this thing called faith…which exists only within the personal interactions between moral beings having the capacity for free-will choice and cognitive thinking…place the reality of the entire framework of the natural world above and outside of any naturalistic explanation?

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight…from the vantage point of living in the middle of what is being called the Information Age…doesn’t commonsense Christian apologetics tell us that the oddity of the variableness of faith in the personal relationships between people…should have been an obvious offsetting fact to Charles Darwin when he wrote his famous book The Origin of Species?

Should not the high quality of the variableness of faith be a compelling counter-argument against a naturalistic explanation for the origin of human intelligent decision-making, moral reasoning, qualitative judgment, free-will choice, and communication skills…all coordinated into a functional coherence that cries out for an Intelligent Designer and a Master Craftsman of sublime ability?

On the surface, establishing and maintaining faith in our relationships with other people should be much easier and simpler than it is.

As Christians, it should be easier to place our faith in God in the middle of attacking the current, temporary life-crisis at hand…the current life-lesson for ourselves…and for others in need.

But this is one reason why faith is such an important moral reality…such a central factor in personal relationships…answered at the end of this essay.

In our Christian journeys of faith, the challenging issues always seem to come back around to the same successful strategy of centering our trust in God, releasing our faith, relinquishing self-sovereignty over the control of our lives, listening in the Spirit, and patiently waiting…for the answer to our prayer…for the inspirational solution needed…or for the one right path of action to follow…all of which have an element of built-in difficulty.

Why does the foreign missionary find themselves in the difficult situation of trying to make do with limited resources in their balanced evangelical effort to bring the light and the transforming power of the gospel message to the lost…along with the help that is needed in terms of financial and material support to alleviate poverty…and in the process discover what is the elusive sweet-spot balance…which only real-life events and circumstances can define and delineate…between the eternally valuable and the temporally practical needs of people?

Why does the local church pastor find themselves frustratingly short of finances, church member volunteers, and community support to solve the many social problems and desperate needs they confront on a daily basis?

Why does the heart-broken grandmother find herself investing many hours on her knees as a prayer warrior on behalf of a wayward grandchild…temporarily lost in drug or alcohol addiction and walking along the dangerous edge of falling into the abyss of oblivion at any moment?

Why does the calling of Abraham in the Bible involve a time-period of waiting for the birth of his son Isaac?

Why does Moses, part-way through the ten miraculous plagues in Egypt, find himself waking up each morning without Pharaoh relenting and releasing the Israelites from bondage?

Why does David have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death as penned in his beautiful and famous Psalm 23?

Why does Jesus the divine Son of God say in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me”…then without missing a beat says in perfectly executed faith: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42).

            Why is there this curious space…this interval…this gap…in time and in outcomes…between where we are and where we want to get to…for ourselves or on behalf of others in need…that creates the opportunity…the space…for free-will choice and biblical faith to operate together in tandem?

Timeless Foresight Needs Explaining 2

Darwinian macroevolution assumes…by definition…zero intelligent design through foresight…no architectural and engineering design through premeditated forethought…because to allow design into the mix also invites a supernatural God into human scientific investigation…which is anathema to the materialistic worldview.

Yet the one and only area in human experience where we do exercise extremely accurate, pinpoint timeless foresight…is in the design and assembly of complex systems…in manufactured products…in computer software applications…in the construction of commercial buildings and residential houses…and in storyline scripts for movies, television, and fiction and non-fiction books…for examples.

People are by nature prolific intelligent designers…and can see ahead in time to visualize the final outcomes of human created things.

How does this square with Darwin’s tree-of-life based upon common descent…linked by an unbroken hypothetical chain of ancestors…when in-the-moment animal instinct shows no signs whatsoever of being able to go beyond the strict limitations of time…shows no capacity to step-up into the cognitive, creative freedom of timeless foresight.

Bee hives, beaver dams, and spider webs are produced by instinct…not by deliberative, free-thinking, creative contemplation.

This creates a huge gap between human beings and the rest of the natural living world…a gap that is unbridgeable by materialistic processes…by any stretch of the imagination.

Human beings can design and manufacture an automobile…a physically tangible thing… that functionally operates for years and often for hundreds of thousands of miles of driving…using the future-looking vision of timeless foresight and foreknowledge.

But a young man and woman…getting married at age 20…cannot see ten or twenty years ahead into the future…of either the husband or the wife or both…entering into extra-marital affairs…sadly and tragically ending the marriage.

We cannot foresee our kids going off to college and falling-in with the wrong crowd…becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs.

We cannot see into our future…contracting a deadly disease that takes our life before reaching the age of 40 or 50.

There is an old axiom that applies here: “If we don’t know where we are going…then any road will take us there.”

We know precisely where we want to go when we design an automobile, a new house, or a computer software application.  We know where we want to go when we start-out to write a murder mystery, biography, or technical book.

But the capacity for timeless foresight for human beings stops at a certain point…and this is another area that argues for the participation of an intelligent designer God…and for the over-the-top brilliance of creative imagination in terms of intent and impact…in the targeted crafting of the dimension of time in service to mankind.

Time as we currently know it…creates the singularly unique context for the exploration and discovery of a fuller understanding of good and evil…which would not be possible if the other two legs of the three-legged stool were added…of timeless foresight and absolute goodness.

I do not think an answer to the question of why God cannot create human beings who possess divine timeless foresight and foreknowledge…and possess the divine attribute of absolute moral perfection…exists in this present world.  This might involve the impossibly unachievable goal of creating billions of junior level, divine gods…like the impossibility of creating square circles, or one-ended sticks, or married bachelors, or making two-plus-two equal five.

But only premeditated intention…the thoughtful choice-making between multiple possible realities…could produce something as well-defined…having a targeted function…as precise as “time.”

Trial-and-error, hit-and-miss, accidental dumb-luck, fall-into-place on its own, or some form of directional self-assembly…could not plausibly be the explanation for the fine-tuned essence of time.

Time is an intelligently designed thing…a created reality for a definite purpose.

 

The biblical narrative stories of faith simply cannot happen if people possess timeless foresight.

God created time…not having the feature of divinely timeless foresight…to enable people to enter into a personal relationship with God that actualizes through highly specified events and circumstances spread-out over time…which would otherwise not be possible within the split-second durations of timeless foresight.

Hebrews 11:1 in the New Testament defines biblical faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Because God’s personal participation adds the two missing ingredients of timeless foresight and absolute goodness into the life-scripts He writes for the biblical narrative stories of faith…and for walks of faith for today’s Spirit-led Christians…this further explains the meaning of Hebrews 11:6…”But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

This incredible feature of time…purposely lacking timeless foresight…tells us something vital about the real truth about God…that He would craft time in such a way as to enable human beings to enter into the new covenant relationship with God the Creator of the universe…every believer knowing God from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:31-34).

Timeless Foresight Needs Explaining 1

Animal instinct in the natural living world does not possess…does not exhibit…timeless foresight.

The reality of life is experienced in-the-moment…for absolutely every living organism…including humans.

A leopard on the African savanna plains…resting comfortably in the noonday shade…hidden up underneath the canopy inside a large tree…cannot thoughtfully plan several hours ahead-in-time until the evening sunset at 8 o’clock…when the leopard knows through timeless foresight that its unsuspecting prey a gazelle will conveniently stop to graze directly below this tree…because a leopard does not possess timeless foresight.

Within the program of natural instinct…constrained and channeled into the narrow, forward march of time…the leopard hunts its prey in-the-moment.

Hypothetically, human beings possessing timeless foresight combined with the knowledge of good and evil…yet lacking a third component of absolute moral goodness…would potentially be perfectly successful criminals in being able to plan perfect robberies…except for the police who would also possess the timeless foresight to be able to anticipate the robbery and take perfect steps to prevent it…when the future moment in time came.

If humans possessed timeless foresight…of knowing in advance future outcomes…then gambling in casinos or at race tracks, entering into a lawsuit against another person, and reading a murder mystery book or a romance novel…would no longer have purpose and meaning…because the outcomes…the endings…would already be known ahead of time.

Lack of timeless foresight is one reason why we like reading murder mystery books, spy thrillers, and romance novels…because we do not know the outcomes…unless we cheat, turn the pages to the end of the book, and take a sneak-peek at the story ending…which I confess I have done sometimes…when the story is so suspenseful I cannot wait to see how it will end.

Motion pictures capture our attention for two hours in the movie theater because they condense the events of a larger story like The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars…down into a two-hour long feature film…reducing the story down to as short a time-period as we can achieve yet still tell the full story…a two-hour movie typically being as close to zero-duration timeless foresight as we can go.

We have to watch the entire movie from start-to-finish…for two hours…because we do not possess timeless foresight to be able to take-in the whole movie in a split-second flash of time.

The same thing occurs in reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace over a three-week period.  The interest is generated…is artistically created by the book writer…based upon the absolute certainty of the absence of timeless foresight of the book reader…as long as the book is read from front to back without skipping ahead.

Two things here we know for sure…that human beings do not possess divine timeless foresight…and that we do not possess absolute moral goodness.

All three complimentary components…the knowledge of good and evil, timeless foresight, and absolute goodness…must be in-place and functioning simultaneously for free-will, thinking life-forms like human beings to have lives that operate at the highest optimum level of perfection.

 

The knowledge of good and evil…if only timeless foresight is added to the mix…without the third component of absolute goodness…creates a nightmarish reality of competing plural foresights good and evil…in an exponentially broadened cat-and-mouse scope of interacting outcomes…having a complexity well beyond the cause/effect stability experienced in our current one-dimensional time trajectory.

But absolute goodness without the independence of free-will choice inherent within the knowledge of good and evil…not having the capacity to freely choose between the broad arrays of moral concepts…would produce the equally undesirable reality of human beings that are mere robots…rather than free-will agents capable of the higher attributes like experiencing love, friendship, honor, integrity, courage, joy, and happiness.

The third possible option of having timeless foresight alone…without the knowledge of good and evil…and without absolute moral goodness…would be a bizarre reality that is unimaginable.

Yet curiously, human beings do clearly possess one of the legs of the three-legged stool…the knowledge of good and evil…without possessing either timeless foresight or absolute moral goodness.

 

From the standpoint of illuminating the real truth about God…this indisputable fact that humans have the knowledge of good and evil…eliminates the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism from consideration as a plausible explanation for this reality…because of the unanswerable question of how and why a material causation alone could produce the incredible human possession of the knowledge of good and evil…without also including the minimum two additional required components of timeless foresight and absolute moral goodness…as complimentary to the knowledge of good and evil?

Of equal power as an exclusionary argument that eliminates naturalistic materialism from consideration as the sole fundamental cause behind the natural world…is the extremely fine-tuned moderation of time narrowly advancing in a one-dimensional direction forward…yet lacking the all-important timeless foresight of invaluable worth…a reality of thoughtfully planned moderation that has brilliant intelligent design written all over it.

The Real American Dream 3

Returning to the example of the temptation in the wilderness…it was only after the resurrection of the perfectly sinless Jesus Christ on Easter morning…that Satan realized he had been outsmarted and out-maneuvered by the elevated, transcendent life-script of Jesus designed for the redemption of mankind…on the cross of Calvary…that only a blemish-free Jesus of Nazareth could procure for us…the God/man substitution in our place as the just atonement for our sins.

Attempting to fix this world through the means of the power and glory of the kingdoms of this world…through standard politics…has no overlap…has absolutely nothing in common with being the singular Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins.

The biblical narrative stories of faith likewise have elevated life-scripts with callings that have nothing to do with pursuing the American Dream.

            This is what distinguishes the Bible from all other religions, philosophies, and worldviews.

The consistent and repetitive theme of God’s higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9) integrated into the life-stories of the people of faith in the Bible…is a compelling evidence for the divine origin of these unique life-scripts…but also provides a major clue into the purpose and meaning of human life.

Mistakenly lowering our sights upon the bottom portion of the American Dream…acquiring materialistic things alone…again illuminates and elucidates the real truth about God.

Satan does not care about human well-being…as deficient junior-level gods possessing only the knowledge of good and evil…but lacking divine foresight and absolute goodness.

In the biblical narrative stories of faith…and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross at Calvary…God reveals the bend-over-backwards…self-sacrifice at-all-costs…love-filled value and worth He places in our relationship to Him.

The American Dream subtly morphs into a deceptive half-truth when it focuses solely on the financial materialism of acquiring things…when it descends into the covetousness of amassing worldly wealth as its primary goal.

The God-created human capacity to pursue the higher ideals of the American Dream…as specified and included within a detailed God-composed journey of faith life-script…having positive direction and momentum…becomes knocked-off course, slowed-down, and diluted by the distractions that worldly conventional normalcy and thinking present in the form of goals and aspirations focused entirely upon the lower bottom-third of the American Dream…upon materialistic things alone.

What is criminally deceptive here is that all that Satan has to offer in his limited capacity…is a blanket, generalized appeal of the pursuit of materialistic things…according to the worldly conventional normalcy and thinking of the lower third of the American Dream…being offered across-the-board equally to every person…because this is the outer boundary-line of what Satan is capable of envisioning for human beings…the enticing worldly pride of self-validation through the obtaining of the ownership of material things.

Only God possess the divinely timeless foresight and absolute goodness…to compose life-script journeys of faith tailored precisely to the unique talents and abilities He has created within each individual person.

Being tempted to go our own way according to standard worldly thinking and normalcy…is a form of robbery…designed to prevent people from actualizing their highest potential…from realizing our created destinies that only God our Creator would or could have the complete knowledge of.

Jesus could have decided to use the power and glory of the kingdoms of this world to solve the political, economic, and cultural problems within the contemporary context of the first-century.

But this alone would not have re-established…have repaired…the temporarily broken relationship between God and people…lost years ago in the Garden of Eden.

Whether Satan understood all this…I personally do not think he did.

The cross at Calvary takes us back to the Garden of Eden…where we can start-over again by each of us individually saying: “I’m sorry…I messed-up…I want you God in my life…I will look upward to Jesus Christ as my Savior and King from now on” (Num. 21:8-9; Mt. 4:17).

God is love…He just is.  God loves us…He just does.

Satan hates God and he hates us…I don’t know why.

 

Finally, when a dashingly handsome young man courts a beautiful young woman to be his wife…the suitability of the young man’s fortune…his financial status and ability to support a family…must be considered by the young woman.

We see this reality exhibited in nature by the male bird “displaying” his brilliant colors or his song pattern to a prospective female bird…and in the violent head-butting to establish the dominant male in a herd of North American bison…or in the horn-butting competition between mountain goat males…determining who can mate with the females in the herd.

Yet Jesus Christ offers His forgiveness, redemption, eternal life, and the fresh new start of a personal relationship with God…through the lowest imaginable status of the cross on Calvary…the lowest definition of failure in terms of worldly success, power, and glory.

The apostle Paul…in taking the gospel message to the Greco-Roman world in the first-century…battled against this negative perception coming from the standpoint of worldly convention normalcy…calling it the “offense of the cross” (Gal. 5:11)…many people then and today thinking that a divine “god” could not be executed by Roman crucifixion.

Jesus has nothing to offer in terms of the lower third of the American Dream…as translated into the past or present.

If Jesus enlists us into becoming the “father of faith” like Abraham…or governor of Egypt like Joseph…or deliverer of the Israelites from Egypt like Moses…or to become the king of Israel like David…or to be the premier evangelical missionary apostle to the larger Greco-Roman world in the first-century…like His own unique life-script…then these callings and missions will go through the cross.

This description of the essence of the biblical narrative stories of faith…separates-out and illuminates the parts of the American Dream…according to Christian thought that differentiates the ideal at the top of the American Dream…from the open and blatant covetousness exhibited in the pursuit of material wealth alone…at the bottom of the American Dream.

This corruption by Satan of the higher ideals of the American Dream…higher ideals and aspirations subsumed within a God-composed journey of faith as portrayed within the biblical narrative stories of faith…is consistent with the temptations in the Garden of Eden and of Jesus in the wilderness…designed to rob people of the fullness of achieving their divinely intended and created destinies.

Human beings possessing the knowledge of good and evil…are complete and whole when connected to our Creator God who possesses timeless foresight and absolute moral goodness.

The real American Dream points us straight toward the biblical narrative stories of faith…and the true living God who possesses all of the information regarding our created purpose and destiny in life.

The American Dream 2

The temptation in the Garden of Eden…essentially gave us a bank account with a checkbook full of checks that we are unable to cash…gave us a brand-new automobile without an engine.

Applying this same line-of-reasoning to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness…the pivotal turn-about here is that Satan did not know…that this time he was the one who was partially uninformed…at the time of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness…about the premeditated and timeless plans of God for Jesus to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin (1 Cor. 2:8).

Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were brilliantly hidden in the Old Testament scriptures as prophetic, predicted events to be fulfilled centuries later in the future… as were actualized into reality on Calvary Hill and on Easter morning in Jerusalem…about three and one-half years after this temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

Satan is a created being…and does not possess the divine attributes of divine foresight and foreknowledge.  This time around Satan himself was not “with-it” and divinely savvy to know in advance the precise plans of God for the redemption and salvation of mankind.

The temptation to Jesus in the wilderness…of using the power and glory of the kingdoms of this world as the means to fix humanity’s problems was not an off-target, misdirected temptation…not a random, shot-in-the-dark outcome of Satan’s not fully knowing in advance of the precise details of the life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God…in a human body here on earth.

But in crafting this deceptive temptation of Jesus in the wilderness…what separates itself out here…that tells us a great deal about the real truth about God…is that Satan this time was the one who did not possess all of the information.

The biblical narrative stories of faith…including and especially the life-script for Jesus Christ…demonstrate that only God has the complete picture…that only God has all of the information…along with timeless foresight and absolute moral goodness.

Satan was unable to comprehend and to interpret the Passover…of the blood of a lamb applied to the exterior top and sides of the entry doors to the dwellings of the Jews in Egypt (Ex. 12:7) that effectuated the plague of death…the “destroyer”…to safely passover the houses of the “children of Israel in Egypt” (Ex. 12:27)…re-enacted by Jews every year thereafter as the Passover celebration for roughly 1,500 years.

Satan was unable to grasp and to anticipate the Passover as a foreglimpse of the prime mission of Jesus Christ the Son of God to be that very Passover Lamb of God.

If Satan had any foresight and advanced knowledge into the true mission-plan of Jesus…at the time of the temptation in the wilderness…he would not have wasted one of his three temptations on the idea that Jesus of Nazareth would be susceptible…would lower His sights…to the enticing allurement of using worldly power and glory as a shortcut to achieve His destiny.

The offer of this worldly conventional means by which to save the world…that might presumably tempt Jesus…again clothed as a deceptive half-truth but lacking the complete picture…intended for Jesus to take the quick and easy worldly path to accomplishing His mission…whatever that was as understood by Satan at that moment in time…the underlying destructive intention was to subordinate Jesus to Satan’s authority (Lk 4:7)…the main goal of this temptation in the wilderness.

To sacrifice His unique role and singular opportunity as the Son of God in a human body…in order to accomplish the saving of the world by taking its repair into His own hands by using the standard, worldly conventional means of political power, glory, and influence…to Satan’s thinking might be appealing to Jesus…as a misguided form of self-sacrifice…at that critically opportune time of physical weakness after fasting in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1-4).

But Jesus emphatically rejects this tempting proposal put forward by Satan…choosing instead the elevated life-script composed by Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit…before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8)…because Jesus Christ knows His own life-script calling and mission-plan…because Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God in a human body…possesses all of the information ahead-of-time (Lk. 2:49; Mt. 9:6, 9:28, 12:40, 26:53-54; Jn. 18:36-37, 19:10-11)…being in direct communion and communication with God the Father at all times (Mt. 11:27; Jn 3:34).

The unique life-script for Jesus Christ to become the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sin…elevated and transcendent far above worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and thus outside of the contemplation of Satan at the time of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness…was foreglimpsed in the aborted sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:8)…foreglimpsed in the yearly Passover instituted at the time of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt (Ex. 12:1-28)…and foreglimpsed in the brazen serpent lifted up on a pole by Moses during the Exodus (Num. 21:8-9; Jn. 3:14).

The extraordinary revelation here that illuminates the real truth about God…as it relates to our free-will choice to follow God or to go our own way…is that Satan at the time of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness…was incapable of envisioning and comprehending a higher, transcendent mission-plan for Jesus the divine Son of God to absorb within Himself the sins of the world…as the Second Person of the Trinity to accept our punishment for sin…to experience death on our behalf for the one and only time in all eternity…and to be bodily raised from the dead by God the Father after being buried in a cave for three days…thereby having the legal justification to possess the keys to hell and to death…and to be able to offer salvation and eternal life freely to any and to all who will place their faith in the Passover Lamb of God…Jesus Christ.

Satan cannot rise above his own limited capacity and character…in crafting his temptations for Jesus Christ of Nazareth…and for human beings…and this is where God can outpace and out-run Satan…as demonstrated in the biblical narrative stories of faith…and in God-composed journey of faith life-scripts for Spirit-born Christians today.

Before encapsulating all of this…more needs to be said about the American Dream.

 

In the highest and most ideal sense the American Dream can be described as the opportunity to realize our innate potential through the exercise of individual freedom, economic freedom, and personal responsibility…within a political system of rules and laws that is a democratic republic based upon representative government ruled by “we the people” and not by the tyrannical whims of a hereditary monarchy…periodically electing our leaders through popular vote…that creates a fair and open society where people can advance socially, culturally, and economically…as free from prejudice and corruption as is possible…thereby producing the best human generated social environment for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Slightly lower down the vertical spectrum-line of this higher ideal…is the more basic and worldly-practical motivation of the varied immigrants coming to the United States from other countries…wanting to experience this higher ideal of personal freedom and liberty within an open society…but mainly focused initially upon the expedient goal of securing economic stability through better employment opportunities available in America…historically fleeing from political oppression, culturally closed societies, or local natural disasters causing economic depressions…in their home countries.

The contemporary American Dream might therefore generically be defined as going to college, getting a good paying job we like working at, having a happy marriage, raising a family, owning a house in a nice neighborhood, having friends, enjoying hobbies, playing sports, advancing in our careers, participating in beneficial and fulfilling social work, sending our children to college, being able to financially afford driving nice cars, enjoying good health, taking European vacations, having a solid stock market portfolio, and providing for a secure retirement.

What is important here…in our attempt to understand the real truth about God…is that it is beyond imagination to hypothesize an American Dream scenario…translated back in time to match the first-century culture of the Greco-Roman world…for the life-script of Jesus Christ the divine Son of God.

The comparison of apples to oranges as an analogy is inadequate.

An American Dream life-script applied to Jesus Christ does not fit…even at its highest and most idealized sense…because the biblical narrative stories of faith transcend above the worldly conventional normalcy and thinking of the American Dream…in any era…past or present…especially for the life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The Real American Dream 1

The temptation in the wilderness…of Jesus…regarding the attractive appeal of the kingdoms of this world, and the power and glory of them (Lk. 4:5-8)…as the sole conventionally recognized and popularly understood means to solve the problems of this world…should not be automatically disqualified…as not being commendable and admirable…just because it comes out of the mouth of Satan.

The cleverest and most appealing of the destructive temptations by Satan contain a kernel of partial truth…being half-truths that have some measure of positive value…their destructive nature being in that they rob the intended target of realizing the full benefit of the half-truth being deceitfully offered…having a final, hidden outcome that intentionally and knowingly falls far short of the misleading promise conveyed…like unknowingly accepting a one-hundred dollar bill from a counterfeiter…only to find out later at the grocery store that it is worthless.

The precisely targeted temptations by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5)…of Jesus in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1-15)…and now being put forward in this present time…attempt to get people to lower their sights to aim for things below their created potential…to aim for lower goals that miss the mark of people’s divinely intended destinies.

If human beings are created with the privileged capacity to be able to have a personal relationship with our Creator God…to know Him from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34)…then one of the most misguided tragedies in this life would be to become side-tracked by alternative goals that distract, frustrate, and dilute the fully realized human life-script…of enjoying a walk with God through life…that actualizes into reality this intimate personal relationship with God.

The destructive intentions deceptively hidden within the temptations by Satan…are masked within the details of choices and suggested courses of action…that have the outward appearance at first glance…of being reasonably beneficial and sensible.

By taking these classic temptations apart piece-by-piece…”sunlight being the best disinfectant”…what is revealed is the real truth about God (Jn. 10:10).

For example, the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that: “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5)…hopelessly falls short of its implied benefit…misleadingly falls short of the whole story…because simply knowing about good and evil alone…without the dual accompanying divine capacities of timeless foresight and absolute perfect character…leads to the despair of failure…leads to the frustration of not be able to fully achieve consistent success…of not being able to produce and maintain the trouble-free life of secure happiness…elevated safely above the vulnerable zone of being corruptible and mistake-prone.

In a nutshell, this is an accurate description of flawed human nature.  In essence, this is a fundamental explanation for the imperfect record of human history.

Our modern culture denigrates the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a human invented, literary myth…but the highly sophisticated theme here is so far above and outside of the boundaries of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…differentiating the deeply profound concepts of self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty in the course and direction of human life-scripts…that to lightly dismiss this Garden of Eden temptation story as having a human imaginative origin…in my opinion is being naïvely uncritical  and short-sighted.

No human literary writer…at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis…or in modern times today…could or would get within ten miles of this story…could or would invent this account of the downward fall of mankind in freely choosing to go our own way…independently going about our own lives being the foundational keystone of humanistic self-sovereignty…the diametric opposite of following the counsel and input of God our Creator within a walk of faith.

Obtaining the knowledge of good and evil alone…on the cheap in the Garden of Eden by merely eating a particular fruit from a tree…is like someone giving us an automobile for free that has no motor.  It may be beautiful on the outside…but it is not functional in terms of getting anywhere.

That “knowing good and evil” alone would be a positive thing for mankind…is a classic example of being a half-truth…having an end-point outcome that does not fully deliver as advertised.

The only way that “knowing good and evil” successfully operates for autonomous human beings…walking within our own self-composed life-scripts apart from God…is if we also innately possess the timeless foresight to see into the future to make correct decisions ahead-of-time…and possess the absolute perfect character to always without exception choose the right course of action for the optimum benefit to ourselves and to other people

Without timeless foresight and absolute goodness…”knowing good and evil” becomes a Catch-22 dilemma of only being able to recognize, appreciate, and second-guess our past bad choices and mistakes…in hindsight…after-the-fact in the reactive, cleanup mode.

Not having the benefit in-the-moment…of being able to see ahead into the future the final outcomes of our decisions, choices, and actions now in the present time…and not being able to divinely separate and parse the subtleties of good from evil…at the proactive, preventive, and trouble-free level of perfect character…is a reality of human life.

But acquiring the knowledge of good and evil alone…as non-divine human beings…does indeed work extremely well…if this deficiency in our nature is repaired by the addition of a personal connection with our Creator God…who does possess the divine attributes of timeless foresight and absolute perfect goodness…a reality that is brilliantly patterned for us in the life-scripts of the worldly unconventional, biblical narrative stories of faith.

The tempting appeal of independently acquiring for ourselves one of the legs of the three-legged stool required as a first-start to becoming “as gods”…the three legs of the stool being at a minimum the knowledge of good and evil, timeless foresight, and perfect character…this hasty and rash decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to accept the proposal made by Satan speaking to them in beguiling words through the spiritual apparition/holography of a beautiful serpent (2 Cor. 11:14)…carries with it the unimaginably destructive, hidden by-product of going our own way (Isa. 53:6)…of departing on our own from the clear command of God not to eat the fruit from this particular tree…thereby separating Adam and Eve from the vital personal connection to God that they and we need…the connection to fill-in the missing input of divine foresight and absolute goodness into the equation of life…that they still lacked after acquiring this knowledge of good and evil.

A thoughtfully questioning and worldly-savvy Adam and Eve might have more wisely answered back to the serpent: “What you say sounds good and appealing on the surface…but there is no rush…we will first discuss this with God, think about it, and then get back to you in a few days.  Also, we know God just well-enough now to trust His judgment…and will ask God to elaborate further on why He told us not to eat this fruit…and why someone would be suggesting we do otherwise…as if there might be another alternate reality we are missing-out on in this Garden of Eden…that is independent of and contrary to the council of God…before making our decision regarding this new option you present.”

The absence of all of the information needed to make a thoughtful decision…of not having the whole picture…identifies this temptation in the Garden of Eden as having such a malicious and destructive intention…that its subtlety of being masked within a half-truth containing some limited measure of appealing value…enables us in hindsight to be able to categorize this temptation by Satan as being an injuriously deceptive evil…on a monumental scale as demonstrated every day in the front pages of newspapers around the world…of people having a knowledge of good and evil but being incapable…as less-than-divine gods…not possessing all of the tools needed…to divinely control life-events consistently towards favorable outcomes.

The Real Prince and the Pauper

 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”                  (Phil. 2:10)

Jesus Christ cannot live-out and fulfill His unique mission in a human body…and still at the same time retain some portion of His divine, outward appearing glory.

Jesus is now in an “earthen vessel” (2 Cor. 4:7).  Even though Jesus is at all times fully God and fully man…Jesus cannot walk around Israel in the first-century having a low-level exterior glow of light surrounding His body in a sort of low-calorie, sugar-free, “God-Light” aura…and fulfill the destiny that awaits Him at Calvary.

God cannot split the difference halfway between the unremarkable outward appearance of a normal human being…and the unmistakably divine glory that Jesus enjoyed as the Son of God…the Second Person of the Trinity in heaven.

In terms of outward appearances the incarnation is an all or nothing enterprise.  It is a binary choice of the digits of either zero or one…a yes or no enterprise…not both.  It is a “go or no-go” decision for missile launch.  No fractions are allowed.

Any amount of visible, supernaturally divine light emanating around the exterior person of Jesus the son of Mary and step-son of Joseph the carpenter, growing up in Nazareth, and during His subsequent public ministry…would have tipped the salvation scale completely away from the free-will exercise of commendable faith in Christ as Savior…for all of the good and right reasons…instead of tipping the scale towards the morally bland, unexceptional, merely factual observation of the recognition of the physical phenomenon of a visually glorified Jesus Christ.

Faith in a slightly glowing Jesus Christ would be merely a physical senses observation only…to the limited end-point…where that would take us in the first-century…rather than a selective moral choice…two things that are entirely different in character and substance.

What this tells us about the character of God is that He has the breadth and depth of moral capacity to empty Himself fully of all of the advantages of the outward appearances of His glory…a necessary strategy for our sakes in meeting us where we are at…that enables the ignominious outcome of the cross on Calvary Hill.

God’s love for us is so strong, so purely motivated, so free of the excess baggage of pride and arrogance… that He can enter into the unvarnished status of a normal appearing human being as Jesus Christ from the small and unremarkable town of Nazareth (Phil. 2:5-8; Isa 9:6, 53:5)…to become the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for our sins.

The humility component of the stepping down of the Son of God from heaven into a human body is an essential factor in the eventual rejection of Jesus Christ foretold in Isaiah 53…which leads directly to the cross, the resurrection, and our eternal salvation.

This element of the cross in the life-script of Jesus Christ…and as also applied to our own Christian lives…is at a level of complexity and novelty beyond anything that human creative imagination could invent…barely touched upon in modern literary fiction.

Additionally, it can be said that it would also have been easy for Jesus the Son of God to obtain the outward appearance of worldly success and wealth as an international merchant in the first-century, for example.

And judging by the verbal exchange between the 12-year old Jesus and the rabbis in Jerusalem recorded in Luke 2:41-50, Jesus could also have stayed within the rabbinical tradition and become a world-renowned Jewish scholar.

Any and all such pursuits, however, seem beneath the unique life-script of the divine Son of God entering into a human life on earth.

The life of Jesus Christ is the perfect example of the called-out person…the called-out life.

As we read through the Sermon on the Mount…any elevated worldly status…as a military liberator or political leader…would seem totally out-of-place and out of character for the Son of God Jesus…making the fundamental case for people then and now to exchange self-sovereignty for God-sovereignty in their lives.

If we are called-out to be missionaries in the rainforests of the Amazon or in New Guinea…to be evangelists and church-planters in Africa or Western China…or to be the first-century disciples of the early Christian church sent out into the world to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ…like Peter, Paul, and the other apostles and disciples…we will experience hardship in this life in service to the gospel message (Acts 14:22).

But in the Bible, God also raises people up to worldly prominence and status…according to God’s unselfish purposes for the benefit of mankind.

Abraham is a wealthy man to the point of being able to respond quickly and assemble a small army to go and successfully fight another small army in rescue of his nephew Lot (Gen. 14:14).

Within God’s callings, plans, and guidance…Joseph becomes governor of Egypt, Moses is an equal match to Pharaoh in delivering the Israelites, and David becomes a king.

God raises-up mighty and powerful prophets that deliver the people from oppressors…and to oppose and denounce wayward kings.

Other notable names in the Bible that come to mind are Boaz, Abigail, Daniel, Esther and Mordecai, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathaea, and the “chief of Asia”…friends of Paul (Acts 19:31)…people who all experienced some elevated measure of worldly prominence and status…in service to God and other people.

So whether we are called-out to be pastors or foreign missionaries…or called-out to be federal court judges, state senators, college presidents, Bible college professors, concert pianists, professional athletes, stay-at-home moms, or successful business people…we have no one ultimately to answer to in regard to our individual callings…except God our Creator…in the leading and course of our lives (2 Tim. 4:7).

In leaving behind His outwardly appearing heavenly glory…and rejecting all claims to elevated worldly status and acclaim…Jesus Christ the Son of God creates a platform of credibility from which to offer a radically different lifestyle alternative that only the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice-for-sin could plausibly and justifiably make.

What is inexplicable in terms of humanistic literary invention…because it runs so contrary to our notion of self-sovereignty…is that Jesus is offering Himself as the leader of this alternative lifestyle expedition…dethroning us…taking our place.

When Jesus says in John 14:6…”I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”…He is exemplifying and articulating the only other alternative, major worldview possible in all of existence…the alternative of God-sovereignty in the leading of our lives.

The radical insertion of a Prince and the Pauper lifestyle journey into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…of leaving the palace to go out into the risk and adventure of the outside rough-and-tumble world (Mt. 9:10-13)…can only be actualized into real, empirical human experience by the one Person who invented and literally embodied this concept…Jesus Christ the Son of God.