Why the Cross in a Journey of Faith is Important Today 2

The Intelligent Designer

The ingenious discovery by two scientists Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, documented in their 2004 book The Privileged Planet, leads us to one of the final great truths to be discovered at the end of the Scientific Revolution and of human redemptive history.

In their book, they make the argument that there is a surprising relationship between the physical factors that make our earth habitable and the same identical factors that also provide the best platform for making scientific observations of the universe.

The 20 or so physical factors that make our planet earth uniquely habitable in our solar system, and the prime location we enjoy within the Milky Way Galaxy that provides an open window to investigate the cosmos, reveals a creative God of superb craftsmanship and precision who actually invites us, through a natural world that is orderly, intelligible, and accessible to investigation, to pursue a full and mature understanding of His creation.

Guillermo Gonzalez, an astrophysicist, observed a full solar eclipse in 1995 in India, and then connected the novelty of this occurrence to other similar physical evidence in the universe in collaboration with Jay Richards in their book.  Together they reached the inspired conclusion that the factors that make our planet habitable in our solar system and in our Milky Way Galaxy, at the same time also provide the optimum environment for human observers to make scientific discoveries of the cosmos.

For example, our distant sun is four hundred times the size of our moon but also four hundred times farther away, creating a nearly perfect lunar eclipse of the sun and thus the conditions accessible to investigation by modern man.

A full lunar eclipse of the sun blocks out the harsh glare of the sun while leaving exposed the outer atmosphere, enabling scientists to study the “flash spectrum” of light observable only during an eclipse.  This information opened up our modern understanding of the composition of stars and formed the basis for the current-day study of astrophysics.

The theological implication from science is that God is experientially close enough to us to design ahead of time the tight size and distance specifications of our sun, moon, and earth in such a way to create solar eclipses, in full anticipation of the emergence of the modern study of astrophysics in the early twentieth century…revealing the divine capacity for timeless foresight.

The same God also brilliantly sets up the tight specifications of a journey of faith modelled for us through the narrowly channeled life-script circumstances of an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Joseph and Mary, Peter, Paul, and Jesus.

If it takes the Intelligent Designer God to set up for us the physical conditions in our solar system to be able to observe a lunar eclipse of the sun leading to a scientific understanding of the larger universe, it is timely for modern Christians to now also officially recognize that it will take God to likewise engineer the unique conditions of a journey-of-faith life-script of tightly specified events and circumstances, to lead us into “all truth” (Jn. 16:13).

The extremely narrow specifications that set up the precise conditions to open up the way for the scientific investigation in the natural world, as evidenced through the unique phenomenon of a solar eclipse, are a quantitatively measureable, empirical revelation of the master craftsmanship of God.

This same intricate precision is mirrored in the equally tight specifications of a journey of faith leading to the revelation of moral and spiritual truth, as recorded in the narrative stories in the Bible (Eph. 2:10).

The empirical scientific evidence for the notion that our planet earth is special and privileged through the common factors that support complex life and at the same time provide a prime observation platform to make scientific discoveries, translates seamlessly from the natural world over into the biblical concept of a journey of faith leading to the highest levels of discovering eternally valid and applicable moral truths.

God designed the exact size of our earth, its location within the “habitable zone” in our solar system to permit liquid water, the size and type of our sun, the large size of our moon that maintains the uniform tilt and rotation of our earth for a stable weather environment, and the transparent nature of our atmosphere that supports both complex life and scientific investigation.

This same creative God is composing and orchestrating journeys of faith for Christians through this current spiritual, moral, and intellectual environment of our world today (Jer. 31:31-34).

The fact that our natural world is orderly and intelligible leads to our ability to study phenomenon to the outer reaches of the cosmos and to the smallest microscopic world of living cells.

The fact that we possess the intellect, judgment, and cognitive skills to understand moral issues opens up the potential for the discovery of right and wrong through God-composed adventures of faith.

These two concepts…intelligent design of the natural world and the active participation of God in the lives of contemporary Christians through biblical-quality journeys of faith…are coalescing into complementary supporting revelations into the openness of God’s invitation to know Him through His creation and His participation in our lives.

This confirms from two entirely different directions that we do indeed live on a privileged planet designed and created for a purpose.

Our unique location as Spirit-born Christians in this broken world is the equivalent experiential platform for making discoveries in the world of absolute morality…that closely parallels the discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards that the factors in our natural world both support complex life and provide an optimum platform for scientific investigation.

God did not create evil, but He is so brilliantly imaginative that he can take flawed and imperfect people like Abraham and Paul, and craft them through unique life-scripts into spiritual sons of God who can understand and appreciate the aspects of truth and righteousness, at the same deep level as we are now beginning to scientifically understand the superb craftsmanship behind the workings of our physical world.

A biblical journey of faith following Jesus Christ through the cross, invites us to discover the eternal workings of righteousness, holiness, and faith in the areas of character and truth, in the same way that God invites mankind to discover Him through the accessibility and intelligibility of the natural world.

If God does not in actuality and in reality speak to Abraham…to leave Haran and travel to Canaan…then the story of Abraham is merely a flat, conventionally bland tale in antiquity of a person going from one location to another.

If the conversion and ministry of Paul is interpreted through a humanistic lens alone…without the supernatural participation of Jesus Christ crafting Paul into a world-class apostle of the faith…then what is the value of what Paul has to say to us about surrendering and yielding our lives to the leading of Jesus Christ?

Jeremiah 31:31-34 calls for believers to personally know God from the least to the greatest.

This claim is absurd if God does not exist in actuality…but the larger point is that this concept lies outside of human imaginative origination.

What is our frame of reference for inventing the idea we can get to know personally the living God…if in reality He does not exist?

No one would or could invent the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.  How or why would someone invent the idea of knowing God personally through a journey of faith…if such a journey of faith would quickly be dispelled by the non-participation of a non-existent God?

One of the key points of the Bible that validates its supernatural content is that God does actually call people to know Him personally in every century of human history.

God skillfully maneuvers events and circumstances in a humanly unimaginable way so that people reach the point where they recognize their need for God’s help in the midst of their calling, brought into clear investigative focus through faith and trust.

The logical extension of the revolutionary discovery that many of the factors that support complex life in the universe are also the same factors that set up an observational platform optimum for conducting scientific investigation of the natural world…is the recognition of an intelligent designer of enormous foresight and cleverness.

This in turn validates and confirms the significance of a biblical journey of faith from an entirely new direction.

If we can comprehend the craftsmanship of God through an understanding of the intricate workings of our natural world, we can also begin to appreciate the brilliance of the totally unconventional apprenticeship program of Joseph’s training to become governor of Egypt, or David’s challenging character growth route to the kingship of Israel.

We can begin to appreciate the unimaginably creative foresight in refashioning the forgiving grace extended to Paul on his way to Damascus, into the evangelical missionary gospel message of love-filled grace preached through Paul to the idol-worshipping, polytheistic Gentiles in the first-century Greco-Roman world.

Why the Cross in a Journey of Faith is Important Today 1

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”                                                                                       (Ps. 19:1)

The uniform experience of every positive character in the Bible is that the course of their lives proceeds not according to their own plans…but according to God’s will and way.  In a life that is totally surrendered to Jesus Christ, the scheme of events and circumstances will lead to an unconventional and supernatural trajectory to open up the way to exercise faith, so that God has a practical means within reality to reveal His true character to people (Jud. 7:2).

One theme throughout this book is that God alone has the divine perspective, a thorough knowledge of each of us, and the creative brilliance to write life-scripts that will achieve this objective.  A God-guided journey of faith is a revolutionary concept that rises above the modern naturalistic worldview of skeptical cynicism toward the supernatural God of the Bible.

The current secular paradigm of philosophical materialism does not acknowledge or admit a brilliantly creative, transcendent God who wants to beneficially participate in our lives according to the unselfish model of divine love.  The world views this concept of the real, living God active in our lives with incomprehension, suspicion, and unbelief.

Unique to any previous period in human history, these two contrasting worldviews…actualized faith and skeptical unbelief…are now polarized into diametric opposites like never before.

Multitudes of people today buy into the idea that the Bible is not reliable because of its “non-modern” element of the supernatural, without even knowing where this skeptical thinking originates from and whether or not it is valid.  A great social and cultural battle of these end-times will be over the facts surrounding the existence and nature of God (Dan. 7:25).

The empirical evidence from science is beginning to weigh-in on this issue from a surprising direction.  Who Jesus is, and the true nature of a journey of faith through the cross lies at the center of this world-splitting debate.  The stakes in this conflict are enormous beyond reckoning.

Our technologically advanced, modern western culture now has innumerable career options, greater access to education, less gender and ethnic discrimination, and fewer economic class barriers…which were not as favorable even a few decades ago.

The great irony in all of this is the corrosive presence of cynical, skeptical unbelief in the God of the Bible.  Present circumstances place our modern world in an ideal position to rediscover the biblical message of God revealing His true character and nature to people, through the tight specifications of a precisely crafted adventure of faith.

God has many more varied options to work with than ever before in history.

But modern skeptical unbelief…based upon the philosophy of naturalism, undermines a biblical journey of faith at its source…the existence of the one true God active in both the physical and moral realms of our world.

This question…whether we rely upon self-determinism to find ultimate purpose and meaning in life, or exercise faith and trust in a more knowledgeable and capable Jesus Christ to lead the way…lies at the heart of the upcoming challenging events facing the Christian church and the broader world in the last days.

The Importance of a Journey of Faith 3

People living and thinking solely in the horizontal, no matter how advanced their university education, cannot gain access by their own intellect into this elevated realm of reality (Jn. 8:43).

In my opinion, this is one of the central issues facing the modern-day Christian church as we approach the end-times.

New theologies, new concepts, or new approaches are not required.  The old-fashioned, tried-and-true approaches of repentance, personal dedication and commitment, listening for God’s voice in the Spirit, and surrender of our stubborn will-and-way to the higher leading of God in our lives, will produce the commendable fruits of the Spirit in character and in service to others…that are unassailable and far above biased criticism based upon skeptical unbelief (Jer. 6:16).

In the days ahead, we are going to hear some people incorrectly say that Christianity is essentially about doing good to others.  This limited definition again falls into the subtly deceptive area of flattening Christianity down into the humanistic program of comparative religious studies that promotes moral relativity, uncritically broad inclusiveness, and universal acceptance of “otherness.”

But Christianity is not just merely about doing good to others.  Anyone, Christians and non-Christians, can do good works for other people.

The cross and the resurrection are not just about doing good to others.

If this were the case, Jesus could have comfortably remained unopposed in His ministry of service on earth, beneficially healing the sick and daily multiplying bread and fish to feed thousands of hungry people.

The cross of Jesus Christ is to set us free from sin.  The cross and the resurrection are designed to open up the way into a new life as Spirit-born new people.  This is the part of Christianity that skeptical unbelief cannot grasp, and that the world pushes back so strongly against.  The cross applied to our lives is precisely the part Christians must pursue with our best discipleship (Mt. 10:38-39).

The offense of the cross has little or nothing to do with helping others, and is totally outside of the worldly conventional program (1 Cor. 1:18; Gal. 5:11).  Repenting and stepping down off the thrones of our lives to enthrone Jesus in His rightful place strikes at the heart of our stubborn self-autonomy.  This is why Jesus eventually ends up on a cross in Jerusalem rather than happily continuing out in the countryside of Israel…simply doing good to others.

Jesus is on the cross both because of our sins and for our sins.

The cross is a result of what offends the world.  If the teaching of Jesus did not strike at the root of our rebellious, self-autonomous nature, Jesus would never have been crucified.  Morphing Christianity down  into the narrowly limited definition of just helping others, without the redeeming yet offending element of the cross that effectively works to nullify our self-in-control natures (Isa. 53:6), lowers Christianity into the flat, worldly conventional realm that can fit conveniently into the relativistic, comparative religious program of our modern skeptical culture.

Jesus Christ is exclusively the way, the truth, and the life because of the offense of the cross that will crucify our self-on-the-throne insistence on having our own short-sighted will and way in life.

Because God’s plans for our lives are eternally better than our plans, God’s participation and intervention in our lives is a very personal demonstration of the divine love that longs to set us captives free.

This is one distinctive feature of Christianity that both offends the world and elevates the God-composed biblical journeys of faith above everything else.  Doing good to others is a component of our faith-walk, comparable in many ways to the laudable efforts of everyone engaged in helping other people.  But Christianity is much, much more than this.

In the days ahead, radical skeptical unbelief will attempt to define Christianity as just another man-invented religion comparable to all other religions in our humanistic effort towards social progress based upon doing good to others.

What makes this subtly deceptive as a counterfeit to biblical Christianity is that it looks and sounds good to the eyes and ears of the world.

The only way that Christians can discover the reality of the full truth of the biblical gospel message, with rock-solid, unshakable conviction that will weather any storm, is to begin to listen to God in the Spirit, study the Bible, surrender ourselves to His instruction and leading, and embark upon our own journey of faith that God has composed individually for us and for the larger doing of good to others.

The working motto for Christian service for centuries has been: “love the sinner, but hate the sin.”

Another key to success for the Christian church in the last days is to identify our enemies in the realm of spiritual darkness, and to have the answers in loving but firm rebuttal to the attacks that will come against our faith and trust in the God of the Bible.

The Importance of a Journey of Faith 2

Non-supernatural interpretations of the biblical record based upon the presupposition of naturalism can then no longer be considered “scientific” because science itself is discovering empirical data that supports a reality in the natural world that can only be explained by the existence of a transcendent intelligent designer.

If Lucifer attempts to undermine the credibility of the Bible through radically skeptical, unbelieving social science critics basing their methodology on a philosophical naturalism that presupposes at the outset that a supernatural God does not exist, this indirectly identifies for Christians which specific issues spiritual opposition considers important enough to attack.

By attempting to connect the philosophy of naturalism (that the natural world is all there is) to empirical science, to subtly confer validity and authority upon the philosophy of naturalism, Lucifer runs the associated risk of identifying for Christianity one of the key eternal issues of truth.

If Lucifer attacks the credibility of the Bible, with the goal to remove faith and trust in the historical reliability of the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible, Lucifer thereby in essence reveals one of the key poker-hand cards he is holding.

In the last-days, Lucifer through the Antichrist will be maneuvered into placing all of his cards on the table (2 Thes. 2:3).

When Lucifer voices…through the mouths of radical, skeptical, unbelieving, liberal scholars…that the characters in the Old Testament are not real people because they perform supernatural feats, or that the miracle stories in the New Testament are not real because they are supernatural and thus suspect according to “modern” naturalistic thinking, Lucifer unwittingly identifies what really matters and is of central importance in the Bible.

If the aim of deception and spiritual opposition is to flatten and level out the supernatural from the Bible, this then tells us that the supernatural participation of Jesus Christ in our lives through a living and vibrant adventure of faith, patterned for us in the Bible, is of the extreme utmost importance.

A journey of faith, as portrayed in the Bible, is the God-ordained process of establishing the context for individualized events and circumstances in this world whereby God can relate to us on a personal basis.

This divinely initiated revelation started with the calling of Abraham to leave Haran and go to Canaan.  As Abraham journeyed toward Canaan, he left behind his Haran-based plans in favor of the new plans of God for his life.  This established a new context for God to create a relationship with Abraham.  This is a supernatural experience at its core.

Modern-day “watchmen on the wall” must shout this out clearly to Christendom in warning of approaching enemies to our faith.

Born-again Christians experience the supernatural reality of God at the time of their conversion.  Spirit-born Christians know that Jesus Christ is risen and alive today.  The question of the existence of the supernatural is not an issue for spiritually born-again Christians.

Because Jesus is both the Son of God and the Eternal Word of God (Jn. 1:1-14), right living and correct interpretation of the Bible go together.  The promise is that the Holy Spirit will “guide” the Christian disciple into all truth (Jn. 16:13), the implication being that the discovery of genuine truth will come through a combination of the study of scripture and actual guided life experience.

The radically liberal, skeptical approach of scrubbing the supernatural out of the Bible, according to naturalistic presuppositions, produces a faulty theological equation that will consistently pump out the wrong conclusions.

This approach to biblical interpretation can never be thoroughly or comprehensively correct, because in scrubbing away the supernatural out of the Bible, this also scrubs away the key biblical element of a supernaturally composed and guided journey of faith…portrayed in the lives of faith in the Bible.

A flattened, worldly conventional, leveled playing-field approach to interpreting the Bible marginalizes Jesus as the Word of God from the scriptures, because it views all supernatural and human interaction recorded in the biblical narrative stories as mere legend and myth.

A skeptical, humanistic interpretation views the Bible as not based in reality…but in mere human imaginative, literary invention.  Skeptical unbelief will homogenize the supernatural resurrection of Jesus out of reality, removing the redeeming salvation of the cross and the resurrection out of the reach of rational human experience.

The key question here is who is more qualified to make the determination as to the reality of God…the Spirit-born Christian who knows Jesus personally through a walk of faith, or the unbelieving skeptic having an advanced degree in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, or history?

A central issue which is at stake here in the discovery of empirical evidence supporting intelligent design…surfacing today in the secular field of the natural sciences…is the clear identification and refutation of the philosophy of naturalism as the archenemy of the genuineness of the Bible and the biblical journey-of-faith experience.

This is occurring at a critical time in human redemptive history.  A journey of faith through the cross is the effective antidote to radical, skeptical unbelief in our modern age.

The arguably defensible component of supernaturalism contained within a biblical journey of faith, thanks in part to the complementary scientific evidence supporting intelligent design, is now a doubly-strong solvent.  This double-strength solvent can be used to dissolve the spiritually corrosive and destructive teaching of radical liberal theology, in our last-days evangelical outreach to the world.

The challenging environment of the upcoming end-times period… elevates the age-old biblical concept of picking up our cross and following Jesus to a level of importance like never before in history.  It is critical that Christians begin now to become rooted and grounded in their faith through a God-composed and orchestrated adventure-of-faith, built on the rock-solid foundation of a scriptural understanding of walking through the narrow gate of Matthew 7:13-14.

This narrow gate begins at the foot of the cross.

The Christian in the last-days needs to recognize that a biblical journey of faith is the diametric opposite of a spiritualized, New-Age, individually internalized experience that we dream up within our minds and project outward onto our own invented imaginary god.

The journey of faith concept portrayed through a God participating actively in the lives of the people of faith recorded in the Bible, is beyond the reach of human imagination and invention…because it lies outside of our conventional everyday experience.

A journey of faith following Jesus Christ is beyond our human capacity to unilaterally orchestrate within our lives.  It is at the opposite end of the spectrum from self-directed religious works leading to self-realization.

The addition of the one true God into our lives, bringing His own unique ideas as to the optimum direction we should be going in, by definition will get our vision raised above the conventionally horizontal.

The Importance of a Journey of Faith 1

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”                                                                            (Dan. 12:4)

The supernatural participation of God in our adventure of faith is precisely what separates and elevates the Bible above mere human inventive imagination in the world of religion.  What differentiates a biblical journey of faith following Jesus Christ is that it falls outside of comparisons to conventional experience.

The whole point of the modern Christian’s journey of faith in space and time is for the supernatural God to noticeably participate and intervene in the course of our lives in ways that are beyond our creative imaginations, thereby revealing His true nature to us.

In a game of catch with a baseball with the God of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, God not only catches the ball and throws it back, but He creatively invents a unique game of “pickle” or “over-the-line,” or throws us “grounders” or “fly-balls” to match our individual talents but also to pinpoint aspects of the game we need more work on.

By definition, a biblical, supernaturally guided adventure of faith is not analogous to a worldly conventional, self-directed, God-less life.

Radically liberal biblical critics today cannot accurately determine the probabilities of the reliability and truthfulness of the occurrences of biblical events using analogy to conventional human experience, because there is no correlation between everyday life and the supernatural participation of God in the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, or Peter, for example.

When conventional-life humanistic and social science comparisons are used as the only “empirically” valid tool to interpret the Bible, this misses the point on a fundamental level.

When the Bible is included in comparative religious studies, without exception the uniquely biblical experience of a journey of faith is absent from the discussion, because there is no equivalent comparison found in other religions or in commonplace everyday life.

The central theme in the Bible is the re-connection of people, by means of a supernatural, unconventional relationship through the four dimensions of space and time, with God.

This was the original intention for mankind before our fall into sin. Attempting to compare the uniquely biblical adventure of faith, saturated with the supernatural participation of the living God, to contemporary social science research based upon common everyday conventional life, and to other world religions falsely invented out of the imagination of man, will never lead to seeing and understanding the true nature and character of a supernatural God.

The “modern,” radically skeptical approach of unbelief applied to the interpretation of the Bible produces a Bible that is just another ordinary, run-of-the-mill religious book.

Radically liberal, skeptical unbelief pulls the Bible down into a flattened, non-supernatural, leveled playing-field where it can then be more conveniently but erroneously compared to other contemporary religions in both ancient and modern times.

This is one of the most clever and subtle deceptions of all time, and it carries with it the “authority” of university trained scholarship.  Whatever good qualities are contained within a modern social science critique of the Bible, removing the supernatural element out of the Bible as a working hypothesis changes the biblical literary document into something it is not.

A humanistic, naturalistic, modern “scientific” approach to biblical interpretation homogenizes out the vital supernatural element that makes God and the Bible unique and full of life.

This discussion on science, the philosophy of naturalism, and intelligent design is leading toward an important point.

The mission of science to discover natural explanations for phenomenon in our physical world…does not mean that science itself must therefore be allied with the philosophy of naturalism.  A scientific methodology designed to discover natural causes for phenomenon is not the same thing as the philosophy of naturalism that claims our natural world is a closed-system…not allowing active participation by a supernatural God.

Pure science cannot say anything conclusive about whether or not our natural world is open or closed to unique, one-time, non-repeating supernatural events, because this question is not testable by repetitive experimental investigation.

The empiricism of scientific evidence and the philosophy of naturalism do not touch tangentially, much less overlap in terms of common, supportive hard data.  Nonetheless, naturalism has deceptively attached itself to science, thereby claiming a prestige and authority through a faulty connection to the empirical nature of science…that the purely speculative philosophy of naturalism does not merit.

From the Christian perspective, the unwarranted attachment of the philosophy of naturalism to the credibility and purity of science is one of Lucifer’s greatest triumphs of deception in our modern times.

The subtlety of this deception is amazingly clever.  Dividing and separating out the philosophy of naturalism from pure science is not easy.  The malevolent agenda of Lucifer is to combat faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and to cast doubt on the credibility of the Bible, by coupling the atheistic philosophy of naturalism to the neutral empiricism of scientific investigation.

Combined with the commendable optimism of the historical Enlightenment era “doctrine of progress,” and the accelerating positive momentum of the Scientific Revolution, the tag-along philosophy of naturalism is a free-rider that is difficult to disconnect from this fast moving train.

What better scheme than to promote a philosophy that unjustifiably claims the prestige and credibility of science, yet unscientifically works to remove the existence of God out of our natural world altogether…a philosophical tenet that goes way beyond the scope and limitations of the scientific investigative method itself.

Equally important, the philosophy of naturalism performs double-duty service as one of the key components of the radically liberal, skeptical social science interpretation of the Bible.

A naturalistic social science research approach begins with a non-supernatural presupposition in analyzing the Bible.  But what happens if empirical, secular science itself discovers strong circumstantial evidence for intelligent design and thus a supernatural Creator, similar to the creative capacity we possess, but vastly superior?

What if world-class modern scientists discover blueprint designs behind the workings of physical phenomenon everywhere we look in our natural world, revealing a creative mind exactly like our own, yet with unsurpassed creative imagination using an ordered arrangement of complex information that is sublimely brilliant?

The growing body of scientific evidence in the emerging field of intelligent design pulls the rug out from under the false connection between naturalistic philosophy and the pursuit of science.  If the hard facts of science begin to confirm and point toward a supernatural God, then naturalism must look elsewhere for its credibility boost.

 

What might have passed for scientifically validated conclusions drawn from the philosophical approach of naturalism applied to the Bible, are now reduced to the more honest level of mere human speculation, conjecture, and biased opinion, with no basis whatsoever in pure science.

Purpose and the Cross 3

It is the precise and intricate ways and purposes of God that enlists our own in-built facility for purpose, which can be integrated by God into any set of current life circumstances and events.

Whether we are a heart surgeon, congresswoman, appellate court judge, school teacher, auto mechanic, pastor of a small-town church, writer of Christian books, or housewife raising children, God can overlay and integrate His higher ways and purposes into our lives if we will surrender and yield our self-wills to Him in faith and trust.

The deliverance and salvation of God within the challenges of life, expressed so beautifully throughout the Psalms, takes place within the plans of God, and not our own.

Innate purpose translates into reality at the highest most glorious level when orchestrated and directed within the framework of a God-composed journey of faith.

Sometimes purpose and worldly conventional normalcy do not mix.  Sometimes we cannot have both the risk-filled pursuit of truth and the security of conventional normalcy…simultaneously within the dynamics of this broken world.

Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for the sins of the world…can only die and be resurrected if His generation rejects and crucifies Him.  Only God can knit together a meaningful and purposeful tapestry of the commendable aspects of the Protestant work ethic (Lk. 19:13)…with the worldly incomprehensible, biblical journey of faith through the cross of Calvary.

All of the people of faith in the Bible gave up some measure of worldly conventional normalcy in following God’s life-script for them.  This separates out and elevates the quality of purpose and meaning into a higher zone that only God can orchestrate.

This highlights the wisdom of God in the area of purpose, and like the scriptural example of God composing a life-script for Jesus that contained challenging difficulty for our consolation…it reveals an imaginative creativity that is at the edge of perfection regarding brilliantly directed purpose.

If even our hardships work an eternal glory in us that we cannot fully understand in the present moment…orchestrated, managed, and moderated by a loving and brilliantly wise God at the limits of perfection…this should bolster our faith and confidence when outward appearances seem close to hopeless.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us that God knows precisely what He is doing, dovetailed perfectly with the type and measure of purpose He has placed within us.  Laws, rules, precepts, psalms of praise and encouragement, prophetic warnings, and historical events all occupy their place in the revelation of God to man.  But the biblical narrative stories of faith demonstrate in action the will and ways of God within life-events to reveal His craftsmanship in the management of our journeys of faith and discovery.

At the advanced Christian end of the spectrum of purpose and meaning in life, God will ask us to place our own personal Isaac on the altar of sacrifice.  Isaac is not just Abraham’s son.  Isaac is the son of promise.  Wrapped up in Isaac are all of Abraham’s commendable hopes, dreams, love, and care.  Isaac does not represent some bad character trait or secret sin that Abraham must surrender to God.

If the purpose and meaning of life were just about smooth sailing through calm seas, then Abraham and Sarah could have started a large family upon correctly obeying God to leave Haran and journey to Canaan.

But Abraham and Sarah wait for Isaac, and Abraham is maneuvered by God through long-range circumstances to this pivotal moment on Mount Moriah, for a monumental reason.

The lesson for the “father of faith” (and all of us) is that he must completely and totally rely upon God and give up any remaining residue of self-reliance.

This is one part of the Bible that cannot be manufactured by man through conventional thinking.  This was the God-manufactured reality in Abraham’s life that qualified him to be called the “father of faith,” initiating a new, higher way of life with God.  As Abraham lifts his knife up to thrust it down into his beloved son Isaac, Hebrews 11:19 reads that Abraham accounted “…that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which also he received him in a figure.”

No ordinary person conquers death.  Through the incarnation, cross, and resurrection, Jesus conquered death…our last great enemy.  We are raised to new life in Christ because Jesus was raised from the tomb by God the Father.

This is the central message of the Bible.  God can and will do for us in a better and much higher way what we cannot possibly even imagine for ourselves.

The most painfully difficult, yet liberating, faith-producing events in our lives are when God maneuvers our circumstances to the point where we willingly make the decision to let go of our own plans, schemes, self-efforts, and even our personal hopes and dreams in a particular area.

As God shouts to Abraham “Stop!” as he is about to plunge his knife down into Isaac, Abraham has totally let go of all self-generated assistance regarding helping God out toward the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.

God would not and never has unjustly asked anyone to take the life of someone else.  The sacrifice on Mount Moriah was a foreglimpse, a “type” of the real sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary Hill two thousand years later that would go forward to full consummation in the death of God’s own beloved Son.

The foundational example of a biblical journey of faith, starting with Abraham, begins with Abraham placing his Isaac on the altar of sacrifice…and God taking this unconditional faith and trust and literally turning it around into life from the dead.

Like all Christians, I have experienced trials, tragedies, and heartbreaks in my life.  Although excruciatingly painful at the time, I would not trade these experiences for anything.  When shaped, orchestrated, and moderated by God, they make me into a better person.

Could one of the things that conventional, worldly thinking chokes on and stumbles over so badly…the presence of suffering and periods of hardship in this life…be an important ingredient that produces the continue-on-at-all-costs, come-what-may, get-up-and-carry-on resiliency of character that can overcome any life-challenge that comes our way?

I cannot discover the inspirations to write this book unless I allow God to lead me through a personal guided tour of life’s valleys and mountaintops to demonstrate to me His faithfulness and His management skills.

The partially hypocritical “do-as-I-say”…moves closer to the absolute ideal of “do-as-I-do”…when divinely-guided purpose is actualized within a God-composed journey of faith.

Purpose and meaning are inextricably connected with this concept of Jesus walking alongside us through the most challenging of life’s circumstances.

The purpose in the cross is all over this encouraging reality of a journey of faith following Jesus Christ through the hills and valleys of life, ironically fulfilling in the most commendable God-scripted way the tempting seduction of Lucifer in the Garden: “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5).

As King Saul’s deadly pursuit of David is on several occasions within a hair’s breadth of succeeding, David must think to himself whether God’s promise to him through the prophet Samuel will ever come true.

Joseph’s own attempt to get Pharaoh’s butler and baker to speak well of Joseph to Pharaoh and hopefully procure his exoneration and release from prison, falls flat.

When the Israelites are trapped up against the banks of the Red Sea with the Egyptian chariot army in deadly pursuit, it never entered the minds of the Israelites as a plausible solution that God could open up the Red Sea.  If the Red Sea bordered on a forest, some small number of people might have used drift wood as floatation devices to swim safely on top of the surface of the water to the opposite shore.

But this body of water was in the middle of a desert…there were no trees or driftwood.  Some daring people might have considered attempting to swim across the entire width of the Red Sea.

Opening up a dry land passage through the midst of the waters was something that only God could even imagine, much less actually accomplish.

Upon first hearing God’s plan to successfully defeat the opposing army, we can imagine Gideon asking God “Did I hear you correctly…you want us to do what?”

Esther throws all personal caution to the wind in seeking an uninvited audience with the king…in an extremely tight set of deadly circumstances forced upon her by the expediency of the crisis…not at all of her making.

Even on Resurrection Day, as the two disciples are walking toward Emmaus and speaking with the as-yet unrecognized Jesus, after some of the disciples had already reported discovering the empty tomb, they still did not understand the magnitude of the power of the resurrection.  They say about Jesus that He was “a prophet, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk. 24:19), and that “we hoped that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel” (Lk. 24:21).

They did not realize that Jesus, a “prophet mighty in deed and word,” had that very day conquered the great final enemy of death and hell for them, through His divinely empowered resurrection from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.

Most of us did not fully understand the second half of the cross…the surrender of the sovereignty of sitting atop the thrones of our lives as self-autonomous kings…when we experienced believer’s water baptism.  When we were submerged briefly below the surface of the water, and then assisted up into a vertical standing position representing resurrection into new life, we grasped the basic outlines of the cross and the resurrection.

Only after some length of time in our journey of faith do we begin to comprehend in some measure the depth of God’s purposes, patterned for us in the narrative examples of faith recorded in the Bible.

This concept of placing our personal Isaac on the altar of sacrifice so that God can insert His higher ways into our lives, will crystalize into a major theme for Christians as we enter the last-days to close out the long redemptive history of mankind.

This is another key to our success as the Christian church in the last-days.

Just as the cross and the resurrection conquered death in a way that was beyond our capacity to accomplish for ourselves, the second half of the cross is a divine creation beyond human imagination or creative literary invention.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible, and our own personal experience of salvation and a journey of faith following Jesus Christ, will be a calm harbor of refuge and a sturdy anchor of protection through whatever worldwide turbulence lies ahead.

A journey of faith through the second half of the cross is at the pinnacle of divinely inspired and revealed orthodoxy, as orthodox as orthodox can be.

This is the part of the message of the Bible that is designed to illustrate the Spirit-born transformation that takes place within a person, from having merely an impersonal knowledge about God, to a personal, purpose-filled, new covenant adventure of faith following Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31-34).

Purpose and the Cross 2

If we can clearly see the cross within the God-composed life-scripts of the great men and women of faith in the Bible, then we are viewing the precise handiwork of God perfectly integrated to the facility for purpose He placed within each of us.

For example, when Moses is in the middle of the ten miraculous plagues in Egypt designed to procure the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage as slaves, Moses is walking through the narrowest of circumstances having little or no wiggle-room (Mt. 7:13-14).

Each morning that Moses wakes up, he listens to God in the Spirit and desperately seeks God’s new and unique solution for that day to persuade the despotic Pharaoh to release the Israelites.  In the middle of any of the ten plagues, Moses is engaged within the tightest life-and-death scenario of events designed to progress toward a positive outcome that by all outward appearances…in the present moment…borders on the edge of being hopeless.

As one miraculous plague after another fails to move Pharaoh off of his stubbornly entrenched position, the faith and trust of Moses in the character and ability of God to come through with the next brilliant step…is daily put to the test.

Today we miss much of the in-the-moment suspense and drama when looking back in hindsight at the entire story, because we already know the positive ending to the story.

During the ten plagues in Egypt, Moses is in the center of the most extreme opposing forces working themselves out within the most horizontal of worldly conventional realities.

Moses is in the middle between the earthly ruler Pharaoh intent upon keeping the Israelites within the borders of Egypt as economically and socially valuable slaves, and the supernatural God intent upon physically and spiritually liberating the Israelites entirely out of the country of Egypt to create the new nation of Israel.

The lesson here for all Christians is that the plans and purposes of God are located way over at the far extreme, risked-filled, totally committed faith-end of the purpose-spectrum that we cannot possibly reach through our own efforts, or even conceive of in our wildest imagination.

Moses does not deliver the Israelites through some exceptional gift for oratorical persuasion or appeal to enlightened reason in the presence of Pharaoh, according to some humanistic construction.  The deliverance of the Israelites is not the result of a win-win compromise based upon mutual benefits to both parties obtained through expert worldly diplomacy.  The successful deliverance of the Israelites occurs in a zone of reality that is not only entirely supernatural…but beyond our capacity to inventively imagine.

The capacity of in-built purpose in Moses is stretched to its fullest through active faith, bonded with the higher ways and purposes of God to produce this incredibly brilliant outcome of the birth of the nation of Israel.  This in turn produces all of the benefits of the Old Testament events leading up to the eventual redemption through Jesus Christ our Savior at Calvary, which will endure for all eternity.

God accomplishes all of this in the middle of the most daunting and discouraging worldly conventional circumstances imaginable.

Some Christians would like me to put forward in this book the typically modern 3-step or 5-step program to begin to apply a biblical quality journey of faith to our Christian lives.  But the biblical message of the narrative stories of faith tell us that only God Himself has the step-by-step life-plans of carefully designed events and circumstances to connect with the element of purpose He has placed within us.

This is part of the journey of faith that authenticates and validates the competence of the one true living God as King and Ruler of the realm.  Only God Himself can be the competent administrator of this life-purpose program.

The reason that the experience of Moses…with God…in the midst of the plagues in Egypt…is an interactive joint-venture effort between an ordinary man engaged in a committed adventure of faith, and the Almighty God…is that Moses could not possibly self-produce the supernatural ten plagues in Egypt or the parting of the Red Sea.

The absolutely perfect plans of God integrate seamlessly with our innate sense of purpose in a way that is unattainable when we are stuck in the humanly limited position of self-in-charge.

Moses experienced the high privilege of daily walking within the tightest and narrowest of life-and-death circumstances in Egypt…to discover the absolute perfection of God’s ways and purposes in the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites.

The best example to illustrate the perfection of the purposes of God is the life-script of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.

What is seamlessly perfect about the divinely composed life-plan of Jesus is that it is absolutely unselfish.  Jesus is not leisurely sailing the Mediterranean Sea with people waiting upon Him to satisfy His every need.  Everything that Jesus does is for us.  Even though the suffering of the cross adds a new perspective to God’s reality that He never experienced before (Heb. 5:7-9), there is no redemptive value for Jesus Christ on the cross…because Jesus does not need redemption from sin.

Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God sacrifice for the sins of the world.  The sacrifice on the cross is for us.

What is astounding is that God is so brilliantly creative that He can compose a life-script for the perfect Son of God Jesus Christ, which actually contains an element of challenging difficulty.  God knew that we would have difficulty with the second half of the cross…that requires our self-in-charge nature to be set aside so that God can effectively work with us.

Jesus says in Luke 12:50 “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straightened till it be accomplished!”…not because, like us, Jesus is in need of character growth through adversity…Jesus is already divinely perfect.

In Luke 22:44, it is recorded that Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane went back a second time to “pray more earnestly.”

This is beyond our comprehension.  We would normally assume that everything Jesus did, especially prayer, was perfect the first time.

In Luke 22:42 Jesus prays “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.”

How can God be so brilliantly creative to be able to write into the earthly experience of the divine Son of God Jesus, the element of difficult challenge which is totally foreign to the perfect nature of God, just so He could tell us He personally understands our own difficulty in picking up our cross in order to follow God?

Even within the absolute perfection of the ways and purposes of God, the life-script of Jesus manages to contain God-challenging elements of difficulty written-in for our future consolation and encouragement.  This touches me at the capacity of my intellect and the depth of my heart.