The Gap between the Cross and the Resurrection

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”                (1 Cor. 1:18)

            The largest gap…the largest vertical displacement in terms of distance…that has ever occurred in human redemptive history…on the continuum graph-line of goodness and light…is the space between the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and then His resurrection from the dead three days later.

The event of the cross was so catastrophic for the disciples of Jesus that it sent them into a tailspin of doubt and despair…beyond comprehension to these followers of Jesus during the three-day gap in time until the resurrection.

The previously unimaginable gap between spiritual darkness exhibited through hatred, prejudice, and stubborn unbelief producing the rejection of Jesus on the cross…and the incredible jump up the continuum of light of the glorious resurrection of Jesus exhibiting the complete acceptance, validation, and approval of God the Father…of the sinless performance of Jesus Christ the Son of God…subsequently transformed the disciples and changed the world.

Even though Jesus forewarned the disciples in advance of His upcoming death in Jerusalem at the hands of the Jewish leaders, and His rising from the dead three days later…worldly conventional thinking was so strong within the still-to-be-spiritually reborn disciples (Jn. 20:22)…that the gap beginning with the unprecedented depth of spiritual darkness leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus…took these disciples by surprise and sent them scattering at the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The challenge of overcoming the accumulated spiritual darkness of mankind’s sin…even tested the Son of God Jesus in Gethsemane the night before Calvary…as we read about Jesus having to go back and pray a second time…incomprehensible to us in the divine, perfect Son of God…sweating drops of blood…and requiring the aid of an angel from heaven (Lk. 22:39-44)…saying “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death” (Mk. 14:34).

The positive outcome three days later of the resurrection of Jesus having a newly restored body…reaching across this vertical gap…this displacement in distance from death to life…completed the connection within the God-composed journey of faith life-script for Jesus of Nazareth to bridge this gap between our deserved damnation as rebels…to our salvation by grace through faith…unachievable and incomprehensible while we are lost within the confusion of the zone of mixed light-and- darkness in worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

Even to this day, people within the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking go about their lives without even recognizing this enormous gap in history between the cross and the resurrection…as if it never happened at all.

The two most important events in all of human history…the cross and the resurrection…and the enormous gap between them in terms of spiritual light that only God Himself could bridge through Christ…in restoring our broken relationship with Him…is not only brushed aside as unimportant but is totally obscured by our self-centered pursuit of the cares of this world for the benefit of “me, myself, and I” (Lk. 8:14).

A critically important point for Spirit-born Christians to understand in terms of biblical faith…is that the gospel message of Christ goes into the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and lifts people up and out…unto a higher place on the vertical graph-line continuum of light and goodness (Jn. 10:10; 11:25-26).

Even though we by necessity live our lives partially within conventional normalcy…pay our bills, show up for work, eat well and exercise…a God-composed adventure of faith life-script falls above and outside of worldly conventional normalcy.

Worldly conventional thinking…without God as our King and Ruler…as junior gods sitting atop the thrones of our lives…is where the “blind lead the blind…both falling into a ditch” (Mt. 15:14).  This is where a man can gain the whole world yet lose his own soul (Mt. 16:26).  Worldly conventional normalcy is where the “woman at the well” resides before she meets Jesus (Jn. 4:5-30).

The blindness of worldly conventional thinking explains the townspeople of Nazareth attempting to throw Jesus off a cliff to His death…unable to reconcile the humbleness of His station in life as a local carpenter…with the enormous yet perfectly true statement in their synagogue that the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2 was being fulfilled that very day.

Worldly conventional thinking explains the family of Jesus not believing in Him (Mk. 3:21; Jn. 1:5, 7:5).  Worldly conventional normalcy and thinking sadly results in: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (Jn. 6:66).  Worldly conventional thinking results in everyone forsaking Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Worldly conventional normalcy and thinking produces the blindness and ignorance that has Jesus saying from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).

Worldly conventional normalcy and thinking will produce the bewildering opposition to the gospel message (Acts 14:22)…a gospel that Christians lovingly and selflessly bring to this world.

As Spirit-born Christians walking with Jesus…we are in the world…but not of the world (Heb. 11:16).

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

The Narrow Bandwidth of Definition 3

Why is all of this discussion important for Christians today? 

Why is this topic of the narrowness of the bandwidths of characteristics that define the essence of things living and non-living in the natural world…included at the beginning of a book entitled…A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity?

This argument for the necessity of an independent agent…a thinking Creator God…as the active Designer behind the invention of the narrow bandwidths of characteristics that define each and every living thing on this planet…in terms of their complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated body-plan architectures and lifestyle habits…crosses over seamlessly and beautifully…for the same reasons…into the equally compelling argument…that the biblical narrative stories of faith likewise must have a divine origin.

Certainly the storylines of the biblical narrative stories of faith like those of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Ruth, Hannah, Esther and Mordecai, Elijah, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, and Paul…to name a few…are not the product of accidental invention.

The letters, words, sentences, and grammatical structure of the biblical narrative stories of faith did not self-assemble by random-chance trial-and-error…any more than computer software language codes self-assemble to produce debugged and error-free applications such as word processing and financial accounting spreadsheets.

The narrow bandwidth of the characteristics and details of the life-script calling of Abraham…the “father of faith” as defined in the New Testament in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6…cannot be the product of blind, mindless, unguided, indifferent, trial-and error, random-chance iterations of human experiences.

We see no trial-and-error, unguided natural selection of variant traits in the storyline of the life of Abraham.  Even when factoring-in human error and imperfect character…the God-composed journey of faith life-script for Abraham…is the epitome of being well-defined and narrowly bounded top and bottom by horizontally limiting graph-lines.

The same can be said for the narrow bandwidths of the characteristics of the individual personalities of each and every positive character in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

We correctly marvel at the information content that is placed within the seed of an apple tree…that when placed in the ground to die as a seed…it then rises-up with incredible directional momentum, intent, and energy…to become a large tree bearing a very definite type of edible fruit…apples.

So it is with the God-created human personality…that has an upper and a lower horizontal graph-line that uniquely defines who and what we are…but also what we are not.

I do not have the innate capacity to be an Abraham, Joseph in Egypt, Moses, Joshua, David, Peter, or Paul.  Their personalities and unique life-scripts…are simply not me.

Our uniquely divine callings…as modern-day new covenant Christians…is to first die as a seed in the ground (Jn. 12:24)…to pick up our cross to follow Jesus Christ…into individualized journeys of faith to match our optimum sweet-spot arrangement of innate personal characteristics and abilities.

This is what separates and differentiates…in the most subtle yet profound way…the virtue of faith in Jesus Christ on the one hand (Gen. 22:8; Num. 21:8-9; Isa. 53:4-5)…and on the other hand the condemnation of going our own way in unbelief (Isa. 53:6; Jn. 7:7, 8:24)…in choosing to be our own junior gods living in the self-sovereignty of autonomous individualism.

Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God…because only God can connect the narrow bandwidth of the characteristics that define who and what we are individually capable of achieving…with a matching, God-composed, life-script calling and mission-plan that fulfills our created destiny…the human equivalent of the brilliantly diverse lifestyle habits we see in the enumerable living things in the natural world…like the apple tree mentioned above.

Because the narrow bandwidths of the storylines of the biblical narrative stories of faith cannot possibly be the product of accidental invention…the aim of this book is to make the arguments that these stories of faith cannot also plausibly be the product of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and like the complex inventions of lions, elephants, and zebras in the natural living world…must have a divinely created origin.

The narrow range of the storyline details contained within the bandwidths of the biblical narrative stories of faith…which have supernatural callings, goals, missions, and outcomes…coupled with dependence upon God to successfully complete these missions…places these stories at the zenith, the pinnacle, the peak of human moral capacity.

Do any other stories in the history of human experiences and literature exceed the themes of moral character found in the God-composed life-scripts for Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Hannah, David, Elijah, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos, and Timothy…to name a few?

The journey of faith life-scripts for Abraham through Paul recorded in the Bible…not to forget Enoch and Noah…are on the top-most shelf of the optimum sweet-spot potential for human experienced and actualized moral character…in the same way that we cannot conceptually improve upon the lifestyle habits of lions, elephants, falcons, dolphins, or hummingbirds.

The fact that every living thing today is at their individual points of optimum development…with no actual large-scale, in-progress change apparent…and no further conceptual change in body-plan architectures and lifestyle habits imaginable…combined with the top-most examples of moral character to be found in all of human history, experience, and literature…in the biblical narrative stories of faith…this then makes a compelling argument against the naturalistic, evolutionary program of incremental gradualism…as the explanation…as the mechanism…for how we got to this point.

If incremental gradualism is the mechanism that produced the diversity of life…then incremental gradualism would still be in operation today…would still be the observable paradigm of reality today and going forward.

The narrow bandwidth of a well-defined living thing…renders this concept of achieving functional coherence through a step-by-step development…using the accumulation of incrementally gradual random-chance accidents…to be an invalid theoretical program…refuted by empirical human observation today.

The narrow bandwidths of definition for living and non-living things…and for the biblical narrative stories of faith…remove the option for these things to be lost within the vast space of raw possibilities (to borrow a phrase from the book Undeniable by Douglas Axe, page 160).

The undermining of the narrow bandwidth definitions of truth…by the philosophy of post-modernism that says that all truths are relative…is the equivalent in the field of biology of saying that the genetic borders around development are wide-open to big changes…that the defining characteristics of living things are not absolute.

The science of taxonomic classification would counter by saying that the well-defined characteristics of living things in their completed, end-point definitions…universal across-the-board without exceptions…is inconsistent with the Darwinian notion of continuous and ongoing change…propelled by the relativity of open-ended, unstoppable random-chance…rather than the premeditated stopping-point parameters of intelligent design.

Satan attempted to lure Jesus Christ with the open-ended and non-specific ambiguity of the temptation of “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Mt. 4:8)…during the temptation in the wilderness.

Jesus rejected this offer in favor of the more complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated life-script…written before “the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8)…to become the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins…starting with His birth in a manger in Bethlehem.

If the storyline plots of the biblical narrative stories of faith are accurately defined as the zenith, the pinnacle, the peak of human moral character in action…amidst the otherwise vast space of raw possibilities…this then identifies and separates out the optimum, sweet-spot end-points for the purpose and meaning of human life…similar to the information content that is pre-programmed into the seeds for apple, orange, and olive trees.

The dovetail match between our created abilities…and our unique God-composed life-scripts…is the connection that raises the biblical narrative stories of faith up into the elevated bandwidth of precise definitions that is the reality of the billions of complex living things in the natural world…each of which is well-defined in terms of functional coherence…rather than being a random-chance assemblage of developing parts taken from the vast space of raw possibilities…the main tenet of accidental creation that is central to naturalistic materialism.

This is why Hebrews 11:6 says that it is impossible to please God without exercising faith in Him…and why Jesus said in Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

This top-most level of moral character contained within the narrow, well-defined bandwidths of the biblical narrative stories of faith…that argue for their divine origin…is the popular defense of the Bible and Christianity I want to pursue…from many different angles and directions…in this book.

From A Popular Defense of The Bible and Christianity.

The Narrow Bandwidth of Definition 2

In this current, modern Age of Information…it is not just that Darwinian macroevolution is incapable of getting us to the point of high-level, complicated inventions like human beings through the naturalistic process of accumulating and coordinating unguided, random-chance accidents…which is one of the huge and unanswerable holes in the theory of macroevolution…but also that there are logical stopping points in the design of every living and non-living thing…that do not continue along further pathways of development…beyond the parameters of the well-defined function and purpose of their uniquely specified arrangement of features.

In other words…the informational programs that describe the uniqueness of every living thing…are well-defined, fully debugged, and complete…without wiggle-room for major change.

In the modern, empirical science of taxonomic classification…there is no wiggle-room for the introduction of the philosophic post-modernism of the idea of truth being relative.

The clarity of the characteristics of living things that enables taxonomic classification…is inconsistent with the wide-open genetic borders required to produce the massive diversity of the living world…wide-open generic borders producing big changes that should be in evidence today in an ongoing process.

As we look out upon the natural world…this reality of the narrow bandwidths that define the unique characteristics of living things…should not be the case…if the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism…if Darwinian macroevolution…was and is true.

If the enormous and complex diversity of the living world is the product of mindless and unguided processes…of randomly coordinated accidents large and small…then the horizontal demarcation graph-lines above and below the defining essence of every living thing…should not be static, settled, and at their optimum end-points of completion as we see today…but instead would be ever-moving, dynamic, still in the midst of further development…and therefore in most cases…seen across-the-board as recognizably universal phenomenon…being not specific and definitive enough to be amenable to taxonomic classification…or not existing at all.

The question can be asked…is there anything notable in the natural living world today…large enough in numbers to be categorized as a phenomenon…that have the unmistakable appearance of being in the process of going beyond their well-defined point of functional performance…that fall outside of the narrow bandwidth of horizontal lines top and bottom that establish their unique definition?

Are there incremental variations of lions that can run up to 60, 80, or 100 mph in short bursts?  Are there Great White sharks that can swim after prey at the speed of 75 knots…underwater?  Do we find some variations of owls at night that can fly twice faster than the current, typical owl top-speed?

There is a reason why we cannot artificially select through human breeding…to create dogs as large in size as elephants.

There is a reason why I am not an 8-foot tall, superstar athlete…on a championship basketball team…in the NBA.

There is a reason why I do not have an IQ of 300…and figured-out before lunchtime today…the cure for cancer and the formula for world peace.

In order for mindless and unguided accidents to reach the point of the massive amount of functionally coherent diversity we see in action in the natural living world…composed of billions of unique, high-level inventions having physical characteristics and life-style habits as brilliantly conceived as human beings, cheetahs, salmon, harpy eagles, oak trees, tomato plants, rose bushes, corn fields, honeybees, and golden retriever dogs…to reach this point…the reproductive borders around genetic variation would have to be wide-open, fluid, and dynamic…to even hypothetically be able to achieve the required ongoing revolution of big changes that the radically creative, philosophical equation of naturalism needs…in order to be considered plausibly achievable.

But what we observe in the natural living world is exactly the opposite.

The genetic boundaries around the putting-out of variant traits to be chosen by natural selection…have constraining limits…have horizontal graph-lines above and below the defining characteristics of each and every living thing…without the massive variation required for progressive big changes to occur over any length of time…and this reality has no exceptions.

The objection by Darwinists that evolutionary change occurs too slowly to be observable over the span of a human lifetime…is not valid.

To propose that all of observable life today has reached…in billions of individual examples…their functionally optimum sweet-spots of development for survival and reproduction…all at the same time…so as to render Darwinian macroevolution undetectable to the modern observer…is again nonsensical.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Even the Life-Script for Jesus has a Gap

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”      (Phil. 2:8)

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says in Matthew 5:13 that Christians are the salt of the earth…Jesus is that very salt that makes Christians salty.

In the next verse, Matthew 5:14…Jesus says that Christians are the light of the world.

As He is speaking at that precise moment…Jesus is the eternal Light of the world…He is our light (Jn 8:12)…and the light that will illuminate the new heavenly city of Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23).

Jesus the Son of God is absolute goodness and brilliant pure light.

Yet when Jesus became incarnate in a human body…by necessity He became part of worldly conventional normalcy.  Jesus had a mother, step-father, half-brothers and sisters as a human family.  Jesus worked as a carpenter…in a small rural town…as part of the nation of Israel.  Jesus was intimately engaged in His ministry to the Jews in the first-century…with all of the political, social, and religious issues that entails.

Yet Jesus emphatically declined the offer of Satan in the temptation in the wilderness to have “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12-13; Lk. 4:1-13).

When the people came to attempt to forcibly make Jesus a king…He resisted this temptation…the scripture recording that “he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (Jn. 6:15).

There is therefore a boundary line in the life-script of Jesus…regarding worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…beyond which He will not go.

The gap…the space…the distance to traverse for Jesus was to be the Passover Lamb of God…the atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins.

Jesus the Word of God wrote His own life-script along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The perfect life-script of Jesus did not lead to the coronation crown of Isaiah 9:6-7, but instead to the crown of thorns of rejection and the cross on Calvary Hill…of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

This is the ingenious gap that God inserted into the life-script of Jesus the Son of God, that challenged Him in a similar way that we are challenged…in where we are now to where we need to go…requiring the help of God…yet Jesus is operating at the top-end of the goodness continuum of brilliant pure light…while we have a ways to travel up the continuum line from imperfection and sin toward more needed light.

Listen to what Jesus says leading up to the experience of the cross of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53…compared to the coronation crown of Isaiah 9:6-7:

”But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straightened till it be accomplished” (Lk. 12:50).

In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prays “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42).

We cannot understand what it would be like to be the sin-sacrifice for all of mankind’s shortcomings.

God wrote into the journey of faith life-script for the perfect Son of God Jesus this incredible gap…to take our place on the cross…to be our substitute…to be our Savior through the cross and the resurrection…because that is exactly what we needed at that point in human history…and not the coroneted king of Isaiah 9:6-7…although Jesus was the brilliant pure light and absolute goodness of a divine King during His entire life and ministry…especially so…as He hung on the cross for our sakes.

My point here is that Jesus is the perfect blend of worldly conventional normalcy and at the same time the higher ways of God…because Jesus followed His journey of faith life-script to be the Savior of the world…perfectly.

What is critical for Spirit-born Christians to consider as we enter the end-times…is that the divinely composed life-script for Jesus led directly to such a lethal conflict with worldly conventional normalcy…that it ends with Jesus being rejected and murdered in the one and only way that would procure the liberty and redemption from sin…as the Passover…that only God alone could imagine, set in motion, and flawlessly guide to its tragic yet glorious outcome.

This is the living God.  This is the biblical faith.

This gap between Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 53 in the life of the promised messiah…confirms the divine origin of the Bible from another angle…because this gap between imperfect people and a perfect God…which only Jesus Christ could fill…is a concept too complex and intellectually sophisticated for the non-existent contemplation of material particles and energy…as the explanation for its origin.

These powerful truths lift up and glorify the name and character of God…likewise beyond human invention and creative imagination.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Narrow Bandwidth of Definition 1

In the now 160 year-old evolution/creation debate…following the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s worldview changing book On the Origin of Species…most of the scientific focus has been placed upon a search for how complex and well-defined living creatures and plants…through a purely naturalistic process without any help from an outside Creator God…could reach…could get to the advanced point of having enough functional development to be able to survive in a competitive environment…and to be able to successfully reproduce.

An equally important question to consider…as profound as any other issue in this area of the human search into the understanding of the origin of life, our world, and our purpose in it…is how conceptually and in actuality…would this development appear to “stop on a dime” in our present day?

In a Darwinian macroevolutionary program…that by pragmatic necessity must have wide-open genetic boundaries for variant traits and natural selection to produce the incredibly complex and well-defined diversity we see in the natural world…of substantial physical changes which theoretically should be able to freely progress forwards but also regress backwards and sideways in all directions…unguided…then what purely naturalistic law, entity, or “good sense” would “tell” the human heart when it has reached the optimum sweet-spot in size, architectural design, and performance…and then stay there fixed at that one optimum point…once achieved?

In a naturalistic program…what would tell the human liver, the two kidneys and the pancreas…when to stop growing in size…and when they had achieved optimum function in their physical architecture, capacity, and performance?

What would tell the human eyes to develop to the point of normal “20/20” vision…then stop there at this fixed point of utility for human usage…and not instead develop further to the point of eagle-eye vision…far beyond the performance quality of 20/20 vision?

What mechanism…in naturalistic materialism…puts up the decisive “stop sign” in the enumerable features in the human body…from the density-to-strength ratio of bones, the tensile strength of muscles and tendons, the pressure, viscosity, and temperature of blood, to the electrical impulses that generate all coordinated movements and functions…from balanced upright walking to formulating understandable speech.

What processes in a naturalistic origin and development of the vast diversity of life…would set the current boundaries around human lifespans at between 80 to 100 years?  Why not 200, or 400, or 500 years?

Why would not a blind and mindless naturalistic process of forwardly improving progress…being indifferent and unguided in the area of purposeful intention…continue on in the same direction on a gradual upward incline…to add more years on to the length of human lifespans?

Why would something as important as human lifespans come to an abrupt stop at 80 to 100 years…when the unguided and mindless program of naturalism is supposed to be entirely indifferent to such things?

And if we are allowed to be brutally honest, blunt, and frank here…what purely naturalistic mechanism would invent…by random-chance, trial-and-error accident…the ardor of human sexual anticipation affecting both our bodies and our brains…then limit the time-duration of the pleasurable muscle contractions and fluids production that defines the human sexual climax…to somewhere around 10 seconds…give or take a few seconds?

Why would not the theoretical paradigm of naturalistic materialism…be working to further increase the time-duration and intensity of the human sexual climax to 20 or 30 seconds?

Why are people not out in the streets with protest signs…picketing congress to spend more research funds to discover the genetic means to lengthen our lifespans…and to improve sexual performance?

The logically satisfying sweet-spot in the high performance levels of virtually everything we observe in the natural living and non-living world…confirms our commonsense assessment that the world we live in…and indeed our very selves…are the product of the most brilliant, intentionally well-defined, creatively discriminating, intellectually thoughtful design…and not the random-chance result of complex things like elephants, lions, salmon, eagles, redwood trees, and honeybees blindly falling into individually discreet body-plan architectures and lifestyle habits…through the unguided self-assembly of naturalistic causes alone.

To propose that these decisively governing stopping points…occupying universal and unchallenged precedence for the billions of living things…that are at the centerpiece of the defining characteristics that determine what each of these living things are and are not…that these intelligently arrived-at stopping points are the creation of blind, unguided, mindless, indifferent, trial-and-error, random-chance processes…is nonsensical.

One of the explanations for why we look at the marvels of the living world with awe and respectful wonder…yet take for granted the speed of the cheetah, the power of the lion, and the cunning hunting skill of the leopard…is that we perceive no room for further development in the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of the billions of individual life-forms…all performing at the highest optimum end-points of their completed, actualized, conceptual definitions.

We do not look at the African elephant and think that it should be larger, that the giraffe should be taller, that the Labrador puppy should be cuter, or that human babies should be up and walking at 3-weeks old.

The realization of the required role of functional coherence in the successful formulation of complex systems…of completed definition that describes the essence of one thing and by doing so excludes the definition of something else…can be seen in one prime example of computer software language code that facilitates the application for word processing…but not for financial accounting spreadsheets.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

I welcome your comments.

The Gap that Creates the Space for a Knowledge of Good and Evil 2

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.

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?

Certainly within the vast region of secular pursuits there is an equivalent gap between where people are and where they would like to get to.

This reality is what motivates people to pursue a college degree, advance in their careers, save up money for a European vacation or their future retirement, explore the natural world through scientific investigation, and search for the cure for cancer.

This curious space…this interval…this gap…in time and in outcomes…insightfully observed and brilliantly described in Hebrews 11:1…is the underlying, fundamental reason for the creation of this physical universe having the temporal aspects of time, space, orderliness, and intelligibility.

If we are looking for a reason for why our physical world is the way it is…and why we are here…this curious space…this interval…this gap…in time and in space to create the context for a Hebrews 11:1 adventure of biblical faith to actualize…this may be the answer (Heb. 11:6).

A thesis of this book is that the reality of the universal existence of this space…this gap…between where we are and where we want to go…is a necessary condition for the variableness in degrees of faith to exist…to match the unique variableness of the challenges of our individual callings.

Without this space or gap…as universal and as real as anything we observe and experience…on the vertical continuum scale of good and evil…with absolute good at the very top…the free-will choice to exercise faith in God that defines and differentiates variable degrees of righteousness…cannot exist (Heb. 11:1).

            For righteousness to be eternally sustainable for created, non-divine human beings having the moral reasoning capacity for free-will choice…a broad understanding of good and evil…spread-out along this vertical continuum scale of reality…must be fully in-play in our daily experiences in this world environment.

It is also a theme of this book that the exercise of biblical faith…that of enlisting God’s help and participation in closing this space or gap in some particular scenario of circumstances…whatever that may be…is singularly unique in all of human thought and experience.

In my opinion, this is an intellectually plausible and heart-satisfying answer to the universal question of why we are here…in combination with the fact that we are not robots…but instead possess the mental faculties to process and evaluate the deepest of theoretical and philosophical issues (1 Cor. 2:6-12)…such as we are doing in this book.

In my opinion, this is the logical, rational, and reasonable place where we end up after drilling down into the reasons why the world is a rough-and-tumble reality of life for most people.

This curious dynamic of the interaction of faith between the living God and people…in mutually working together through an adventure of faith journey to close the gaps from where we are to where we want or need to go…falls so far outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…so far above self-sovereignty and autonomous self-reliance…that this requires an adequate and satisfactory explanation for believers and unbelievers alike.

This explanation is found within the biblical narrative stories of faith…and nowhere else.

My book…A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity…is a free Kindle e-book giveaway on Amazon on Thursday 12/27 through Saturday 12/29.

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?

My book A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity is a free Kindle giveaway on Amazon Thursday 12/27 through Saturday 12/29.

Proof does not Produce Biblical-Quality Faith 2

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

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

This in itself should be a telling argument against the random-chance naturalism of self-sovereign worldly conventional thinking…by virtue of the sheer inexplicability of the origin of the concept of biblical faith and its persistent longevity.

Naturalistic materialism…if true…should produce one monotonous, homogeneous human mindset…either belief or unbelief…one lifestyle habit per creature type…like the rest of the living world.

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

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

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

The hard part in analyzing the wisdom behind the delicate balance between belief and unbelief in this current world environment…discussed later in more detail in chapters two and four…is as follows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is expressed in John 11:49-50:

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

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

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

Killing Jesus through Roman crucifixion…falsely as a political and religious malefactor…simply foretells what would happen if this same attitude of self-sovereignty…at its worst extreme version of self-interest demonstrated at the cross…was imported into heaven for all eternity.

One reason why God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden was to prevent access to the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:22-24).

An eternity of disruptive, self-centered rebellion in heaven is and would be unacceptable.

I recently watched on U-tube (on the internet) the debate between Richard Dawkins and John C. Lennox on the topic of The God Delusion…hosted and organized by the Fixed Point Foundation.

Recognizing my starting bias as a Christian…I would judge the debate a 60-to-40 win in favor of John Lennox…or maybe 70-to-30…or even 80-to-20.

Richard Dawkins made some well-reasoned points on behalf of atheism and against belief in God…and thus walked away from the debate…along with a proportion of the viewing audience…with his atheistic philosophy still intact and functional within his worldview.

This is the difficult half of the analysis of why Jesus did not walk openly down the main street of Jerusalem and straight into the Temple to continue to teach…a few days after His resurrection…and demonstrate at that time…for all time…that He is the divine Son of God and the Passover Lamb of God, atoning sacrifice for sin.

But the victory of the cross and the resurrection…demonstrated and recorded openly through the dimensions of time and space…within human history on this earth…is not a 60-to-40 or 70-to-30 or 80-to-20 win…it is a 100-to-zero long-term victory for God and for human beings…and for all the host of heaven…because it exposes the dangerous character of self-sovereignty when it is pushed to the extreme end of the spectrum-line…when it is given the freedom to choose between the continuance of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…or eliminating a journey of faith…following God…off the playing field altogether…by crucifying Jesus Christ.

Absent the heavenly influence of the divine light and majestic power surrounding the divine personage of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:7-9; Isa. 14:12-17)…this is how God set up the unique conditions for the cross at Calvary…and Resurrection Day on Easter morning…to occur.

This is why the humble carpenter from Nazareth is rejected by the religious elites in Jerusalem and crucified by the Romans…in first-century Israel.

And this is why the winning arguments made by John Lennox are not a total and complete victory…sweeping away all doubt and unbelief.

To our amazement…the two opposing dichotomies of belief and unbelief will continue until the end of time on this earth (Dan. 12:10; Mt. 24:14; Rev. 12:11, 16:15)…yet at the same time Jesus can say to His disciples and to Christians today:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

Proof does not Produce Biblical-Quality Faith 1

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.”                (1 Cor. 6:8)

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

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

This is like people saying to the recognized king of the realm: “We know that you are the rightful king, but we will not follow you into battle.”

The Pharisees and scribes would have looked at the resurrected Jesus…talked with Him…examined His healed wounds…and then said: “Great…good for you…nothing has changed in our minds as a result of this newest miracle of yours…we still choose not to follow you…we will continue to do religion the way we have set it up…to mix tradition with going our own way to suit ourselves” (Isa. 53:6).

For some unscrupulous and dishonest merchants selling their wares in the town marketplace…two-plus-two does not equal four…but equals either three or five depending upon the benefit to the merchant…a practice of “deceitful weights” denounced in the Old Testament in Proverbs and by the prophet Micah (Prov. 20:23; Mic. 6:11).

Having a system of standard, empirical weights does not prevent the willful and determined abandonment of integrity through the misuse of deceitful weights…a successful yet dishonest practice designed to work around…to circumvent…to ignore the real facts (standard weights) in business transactions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

The Cross Message 3

It isn’t that Jesus didn’t clearly tell people publicly who He was.

Jesus said that He is the source of eternal life (Jn. 5:24), the resurrection (Jn. 5:25-29, 11:25), that He is the one the scriptures testify of (Jn. 5:39), the bread of life (Jn. 6:32-33, 48), the light of the world (Jn. 8:12, 12:46), the liberator from sin (Jn. 8:36), the divine “I am” (Jn. 8:58), the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11), Lord and Master (Jn. 13:13), and “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

Yet the religious and political elites in Jerusalem rejected Jesus of Nazareth in part on the basis of His low social status.  They rejected Jesus based upon their own biased prejudice for wealth and power according to the norms of worldly conventional thinking…thus condemning this very mindset in not being able to come down to the lower level of humility…as brilliantly and intentionally expressed in Jesus the Son of God and Messiah …presenting Himself to the world in the unexpected low estate of a common carpenter.

Respect is the foundation for every positive human relationship.  In pinning the already beaten and battered body of Jesus Christ to a wooden cross using 7-inch long metal spikes…the religious and political elites in Jerusalem demonstrated the most disrespectful and de-valuing rejection of Jesus imaginable.

This exposed the true violent character of the worldview of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16) at the extreme margin of self-sovereignty living apart from God and “going about to establish their own righteousness” (Rom. 10:3) according to our own thinking and standards (Isa. 53:6).

In one brilliant stroke God simultaneously judged the rebellion aspect of going our own way…against His rightful rulership… expressed violently at the cross…demonstrated through self-sovereign self-autonomy…and unexpectedly in the same cross at Calvary enabling and providing eternal salvation to all those who will put their faith and trust in Him…who will voluntarily come to God in faith.

Spirit-born Christians look upward in admiration to Jesus on the cross…and the blood He shed…for our salvation…and not to our own good works (Eph. 2:8-9).  Christian discipleship is about surrendering and yielding our misguided claim to self-autonomy…to instead follow God’s higher ways for our lives…in faith and in trust in God…going forward from the moment of our salvation conversion.

The injunction of 1Thessalonians 5:18…”In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” is a vital part of a living and vibrant faith that trusts God for everything that comes our way in the Christian life…whether up on the mountaintop, down in the valley, or in-between…and like the apostle Paul…places our trust in God to lead us into all truth and into a personal knowledge of Him…come what may (Phil. 4:11-13).

This is the epitome…the pinnacle…of respect for Jesus Christ and for God the Father (2 Thes. 1:10).

But this actualization of Hebrews 11:1 biblical-quality faith can only become reality within a God-composed journey of faith life-script as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…creating the context for personal relationships with God as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34 for Christian believers…in the new covenant age…from the least to the greatest.

As argued in this book, this reality is simply outside of any conceivable motivation originating from within the worldly conventional normalcy and thinking of self-sovereign self-rulership…the default worldview that produced the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary Hill in Jerusalem nearly two-thousand years ago…and is still the prevalent worldview of modern mankind today.

            Ask anyone on the street today to articulate the difference between self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty…and they will say they have no idea what we are talking about.

The innovative novelty of the living God displacing our ways with His higher ways as described in the life-scripts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Ruth, David, Esther and Mordecai, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter, John, James, and Paul…to name but a few…is an important part of the gospel message of hope…of the liberation from our own life of sin…lost in our own foibles and shortcomings…now with a God who can bring new, real, positive change into our lives.

If this displacement element is a powerful argument for the divine origin and inspiration of the Bible…then an Abraham-style adventure of faith should be a normal and expected function of our Christian discipleship being lived and preached throughout Christendom.

But oddly and sadly it is not.  The all-important displacement part is left out.

In a church growth, seeker-friendly approach toward bringing in the un-churched, God’s “plans” are reduced to over-simplified 3-point or 5-point plans that often only manage to confirm our own hopes and dreams in conformity to worldly conventional aspirations and expectations…rather than picking up our cross to follow Jesus Christ into a whole new world of faith and trust…following God-scripts unique to the Bible alone.

A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

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