God Has Our Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will be missed in the competing marketplace of ideas.

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

The Real Truth about God 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Truth about God 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would guess that this is true for many people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Christian Church in the Last Days 2

In my opinion, the organized Christian church (the outwardly visible church) today does not know who or what it is.

Some “mega-churches” rely on well-dressed people driving into the parking lot for Sunday worship in expensive luxury cars, able to write substantial checks to support the large new building mortgage debt.

The stark economic reality of  increased financial responsibilities often forces the “church growth” program of the mega-church to foster and maintain an artificial exterior front that everything is socially, economically, and spiritually perfect in the lives of its church members…in order to attract the “unchurched” and expand its support base.

Other churches sadly are so mired in stuffy rituals and old-fashioned tradition…that the Holy Spirit…and most young people have left.

Some churches wanting to be acceptable to the world and to fit-in with the liberal cultural agenda of moral relativity and universal tolerance, have abandoned any fidelity to absolute moral truths and biblical ideals.

All the while a new covenant journey of faith following Jesus Christ that would actualize into every Christian’s experience leading personally to knowing God from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:31-34), is sadly neglected and placed at the bottom of the priority list.

The Christian church needs God’s help to find itself.

The Christian church does not need an early exit, pretribulation rapture from the typically biblical, unimaginably unconventional scenario of events that God will guide and shape in the last-days for the eternal benefit of His church.

The plans, schemes, and actions of God that we read about in the individual lives of the people of faith in the Bible give us a clue as to what we might expect for the last-days Christian church as a whole.  This is the final exam, the capstone course on faith and trust in the good intentions of God, worked out through the tightest of circumstances to match His normally unusual, brilliantly ingenious method of operations.

In short, we need God to set-up the unique circumstances in life to enable us to find ourselves and to find God.

A journey of faith is a journey of discovery, and only our Creator God knows the end-point of purpose that will fulfill each of us individually and as a church.

This is a work of the Holy Spirit, the gift of God purchased for us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Abraham discovered both his true self and God through his journey of faith, pushed to the limits of human patience and endurance.  Likewise all of the positive characters of faith recorded in the Bible found their true selves and God…by being pushed to their limit by the carefully crafted journeys of faith composed by God.

No one could have engineered these brilliantly imaginative biblical life-scripts except for the living God.  There is no comparable frame of reference throughout all of human culture, literature, or history for a biblical journey of faith.  By intentional design, a biblical journey of faith falls completely outside of humanism.  It is not something that we can manufacture on our own.

A journey of faith following Jesus Christ comes entirely by grace through faith.  This is why the scripture says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).  Without a God-composed journey of faith fully integrated into our lives, God cannot impact us in the supernaturally transforming way He intends.

This is what is at stake for individual Christians and the Christian church as a whole.  This is what Lucifer and the powers of deception will attempt to undermine and destroy in the days ahead.

In the last-days one of the things in Christianity that will be most targeted by radical skeptical unbelief is the one thing…the supernatural elements in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…that serves as the strongest antidote for the individual defense of our faith.

The debate over the credibility of the Bible is not only a macro-battle that will continue to take place within apologetics, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics, and the natural sciences, but also at the micro-level in the everyday experiences in the lives of Christians.

We prove the faithfulness and credibility of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life within our personal and collective journey of faith experiences.

It is easy to have faith when we are living on the mountaintop.  Christianity is easy when life’s events are going smoothly in parallel with worldly conventional normalcy.  The acid-test for Christians is at the point where God inserts hardships and suffering, expertly designed for our character growth but painful nonetheless, according to a game-plan and training regime that is not of our making.

This is a key feature of our Christian walk following Jesus that elevates it far above irrational and make-believe religion.  Defining who the real Jesus Christ is, as Creator, Savior, and King of the realm for all eternity as revealed in His divine Word the Bible…but also through God-composed journeys of faith… is the central issue to be finally and emphatically resolved in these upcoming last-days.

Can we as individuals and as the church exercise our faith and maintain our fidelity to Jesus Christ if He leads us into the darkest valley (Ps. 23:4)?  Can we push through in faith as overcomers, bearing our cross despite dauntingly negative appearances?  This requires the most expert advance training.  This training needs to begin now.

The first-century apostles were not initially the intellectual and spiritual elite of Israel.  They were ordinary and unremarkable people from a worldly viewpoint.  God crafted them into the spiritual elite of Israel, creating through them the early Christian church that has withstood the test of time.

God has been capably transforming lost sinners into mature saints of God for thousands of years.  This provides hope that God can do the same for Christians today.

What is it worth to find out through first-hand experience that our God is more intelligent and wiser than ourselves, beyond human imagination?

Is it worth a journey of faith containing the risk that God might fail us?  This is the question that was in the back of the minds of every person of faith answering their individual callings of service in the Bible, and the question that each of us has to individually face in our own journeys of faith.

What would be our source of joy for the length of eternity?

It would be to serve a King who is wise, intelligent, adored, respected, and interesting beyond our imaginations, and has our best interests at heart in all of the activities He would involve us in.

God has enlisted this current broken world as the optimum, temporary school for the lessons of faith that will serve us for eternity. This is why an active journey of discovery now is vitally important for the Christian church as a preliminary lead-up to the enormous spiritual conflicts of the last-days.

Some people will accurately complain that I am overstating the case repeatedly throughout this book.  I admittedly am guilty of “over-painting the canvas” in coming back to the cross and the need to surrender our self-in-control natures to God to make room for Him to work in our lives.

This issue is so important that I risk the impatience of the reader in sounding like a broken phonograph record.

The highest standards of God for Christians and the Christian church today starts with the surrender and yielding of ourselves to His leading, so that He can initiate the type of biblical-quality life-plans that will get us into top spiritual shape to meet the end-times challenges ahead.

It is the deep and uncompromising love of God that wants to see each one of us triumph as overcomers in this upcoming great end-times conflict between truth and error.

To close out the book, I quote from 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (KJV):

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.

9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

11 For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

13 We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak,

14 Knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

The Christian Church in the Last Days 1

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”      (Pet. 1:10)

As I explore the narrative stories of the people of faith in the Bible, I see God deliberately leading and maneuvering people into challenging trials, almost impossibly tight circumstances, and nearly hopeless situations…way beyond our natural desire for worldly soft, conventional normalcy.

Like inspired athletic coaches pushing their players towards excellence achieved through total commitment, the God of the Bible sets up unimaginably unconventional scenarios that require faith and trust to break through to a positive outcome for our eternal benefit (Jud. 7:2).

This has been the experience in my own life that informs my understanding of the Bible and the writing of this book.

It is certainly not Abraham’s idea to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah.

It is not Joseph’s plan to eventually end up in Pharaoh’s prison.

It is not the fault of Moses that Pharaoh’s heart is stubbornly hardened and bent on keeping the Israelites as slaves in Egypt.

The singularly unique strategy for Gideon to defeat the invading Midianites is God’s plan…Gideon would never come up with this battle plan in his wildest imagination.

Similarly, the unusual military strategy for Joshua to bring down the walls of Jericho belongs entirely to God.

The anointing of David by the prophet Samuel to become the future king of Israel did not include the relevant information that a jealous King Saul would pursue David to kill him.

Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi is in response to the unexpected death of Ruth’s husband.

The deadly confrontation between the three young Hebrews and King Nebuchadnezzar…regarding the idol worship of the King’s image…is not of their making.

Daniel is completely innocent of any wrongdoing as he is being lowered into the lion’s den.

The desperate plan of Esther and Mordecai to derail Haman’s evil scheme to destroy the Jews, balances precariously on a knife’s edge.

Nehemiah faces enormous external opposition in his attempt to rebuild the walls surrounding Jerusalem.

Jeremiah’s best prophetic utterances to reform Israel…end in outward failure.

It is not the plan of Peter and John that God should heal the crippled man at the gate called Beautiful leading into the temple on that particular morning, initiating a remarkable cascade of events resulting in Peter and John being “set in the midst” of the Sanhedrin council (Acts 4:7).

The Holy Spirit empowered witness of these two disciples to the resurrection of Jesus is so committedly fearless and forthright…that Peter and John were probably not only amazed at their own courageous stand…but members of the Sanhedrin “marveled” at their boldness (Acts 4:13).

The opposition that Paul faced continuously throughout his evangelical ministry to take the gospel message to the first-century Greco-Roman world…is not of his making (Acts 26:22-23).

If we are engaged in a biblical-quality adventure of faith, God will eventually take us to places where we do not want to go, to fulfill unseen potential within us and to stretch our faith, both for personal growth and for the benefit of others (Lk. 22:42).

We all have a tendency to want to do things our way (Isa. 53:6).  Each of us to some extent has trouble listening to others…listening to parents, a spouse, family members, children, friends, co-workers, and listening to God.

We all want to stay within the comfort zone of our own ideas and our own ways of doing things.

Only our Creator God could beneficially override this innate tendency by inserting supernatural plans and outcomes into our everyday lives.  But this requires our willing cooperation, and faith and trust in God’s character and intentions.

A biblical adventure of faith, where our self-sovereignty as kings sitting atop the thrones of our lives…is placed on the cross to be crucified alongside Jesus…is specifically designed to cancel-out the stubbornly prideful component of the I-know-it-all, I-can-do-it-on-my-own tendency.

If the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lawyers in the first-century had been flexibly open-minded and teachable, they would not have rejected the message and the Person of Jesus Christ as Messiah.

If they had been actively engaged in their own biblical-quality journeys of faith…they would have recognized the Holy Spirit within the actions and speech of Jesus of Nazareth.

In the extreme, the insistence upon having everything our way, as demonstrated by the religious leaders in first-century Jerusalem, leads to the final tragic outcome of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

A journey of faith humbly following the leadership of Jesus Christ in our lives, trusting upon His wisdom and good intentions for us in everything, is the opposite attitude of the entrenched religious leaders in Jerusalem wanting only their worldly conventional vision of a military style messiah…promising political and economic deliverance from Roman rule…or nothing at all.

Of course we should never surrender our independent moral judgment to other people (Acts 21:13).  But the ability to listen in the Spirit, and be open and teachable to truth is an attribute that with few exceptions every person can improve upon (Acts 19:30).

God invented the supernatural vehicle of a journey of faith to navigate triumphantly through this broken world.

God, in His infinite wisdom, took the malevolent temptation of Lucifer in Eden that “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5) and turned this around into a positive, commendable, prophetic mission-statement for mankind.

God created this spiritual vehicle called a journey of faith, whereby He could engineer events and circumstances in the lives of the people of faith who willingly trust and follow Him, brilliantly crafting and reshaping Lucifer’s ill-intentioned and destructive temptation into positive fulfilled prophecy in the most laudably clever and commendable way (Prov. 3:5-6).

The Falling Away 4

2 Corinthians 4:17 reads: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

One of the clear signs we can detect in the apostate church is the attempt to homogenize the “light affliction” part of Christian discipleship…removing it entirely out of the experience.

“Christian” churches that have a lot to offer in terms of various programs, but demand very little in terms of teaching people about the costs of discipleship, actually prevents the Holy Spirit from actualizing in the lives of the congregations the challenges of faith that lead to spiritual maturity.

Apostate churches celebrate worldly success in the outer natural realm, having no potential for creating spiritual growth.

Paul says that momentary light afflictions will work for us eternal glory.  The apostate church has no idea what Paul is talking about here.

In John 6:22-65, Jesus is talking about Himself being the bread of life from heaven.  Many of the disciples at that time were offended by the statement by Jesus that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have life.

John 6:66 then says: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”  Then with a voice that has a note of sadness in it, Jesus asks the twelve apostles: “Will ye also go away?”

This is not a mere Old Testament prophet or one of the New Testament apostles speaking.  This is Jesus the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  Jesus is teaching the truth, because He is the Truth, and some people are choosing to “walk no more with him.”

The preaching and teaching of the truth sometimes winnows and sifts out people from following God.  In this example, we see that teaching the truth does not always result in increased popularity and “church growth.”

The lesson of Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, tells us that a person can be in the presence of Christ (in the church), and yet not be born again in heart and mind.

Judas had a divided heart. He wanted to follow Jesus as long as this appeared to lead toward a position within an earthly kingdom of the Messiah in Jerusalem.

When it finally became apparent that Jesus would be rejected by the recognized political establishment, and that following Jesus would lead to a much more costly, worldly-humbling brand of service to the Messiah, Judas sold out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

All the while, not even the other eleven apostles appear to have been aware of Judas’ traitorous intentions.

It is possible to produce large bodies of similarly unconverted, half-hearted “followers” of Christianity simply by downgrading and diluting the gospel message to the point that adherence produces no real discipleship challenge.  Christianity then subtly morphs into self-composed and self-directed religion, with churchgoers sitting atop the thrones of their lives in self-sovereignty.

Peter said to Jesus “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee” (Mk. 10:28).

Judas Iscariot brought some of the world with him in following Jesus, and never “left all.”

A large number of Judas Iscariots can be created in the apostate church by compromising the “left all” portion of the gospel message.

The falling away is a real event that will occur in the future.  Whether the main body of the Christian church will be on earth for this event…I cannot dogmatically say.

But there is a strong argument…reasoning out of the scriptures…that there cannot be a noticeable falling away, worth mentioning in the Bible…without a large number of Christians and nominal churchgoers together as one homogenous group on earth at the same time.

I believe there is a storm coming, a massive spiritual hurricane that will engulf the entire planet (Mt. 24:21).

But you would never know a storm was coming by the outward attitude in contemporary Christendom.  Some churches in America today seem to have an almost pre-storm party atmosphere.  Light-heartedness in our worship can be taken too far.  The word “good” can have too many O’s in it, if we are not careful and not biblically watchful.

The Old Testament prophets were rejected and sometimes killed because they brought a sobering message that people did not want to hear.  Jesus told us to always be alert and to watch.  This is certainly a timely message for today.  But a portion of the organized church seems to be looking the other way, towards things that do not lead to spiritual alertness and readiness for the end-times.

Finally, every Christian should examine where their investment lies.  Unsaved, nominal churchgoers, who have their investment in careers, material possessions, family, friends, the future well-being of children and grandchildren, and next summer’s European vacation, will be extremely disappointed in God when and if conditions deteriorate on earth as prophesied in the Bible during the upcoming end-times.

If our investment is in earthly things exclusively, then we are setting ourselves up for the great falling away.

When our expectancy for worldly conventional normalcy begins to become jeopardized, this will be one of the factors initiating the falling away.  World events will begin to expose people’s expectations and motivations, and will sift-out and separate true Christian disciples willing to stand with Jesus at the cost of their lives…from nominal churchgoers perfunctorily going through the motions of church attendance for reasons similar to those of Judas Iscariot.

All of the good things in the natural realm…careers, family, friends, material possessions…are commendably virtuous only when they are recognized as God’s gift to us and are therefore completely surrendered to Him.

True spiritual balance comes when we can understand that everything good that we have and enjoy comes from God alone, that we ourselves belong to Him, and that we can let go of our treasures and confidently place them in His hands for safekeeping.

The concept of “Occupy till I come” (Lk. 19:13), including all of the normal cares and responsibilities of this life…when in proper balance…compliments and harmonizes with a journey of faith following Jesus Christ.

But the catastrophic end-times events, assuming the Christian church is on the earth for some or all of its tribulation and persecution, can and will cause a shaking loose of our attachment to everything that is near and dear to us, so that we will correctly focus our eternal investment upon God alone.

We can begin doing that now in anticipation of these end-times events, through a surrendered, crucified life in service to Christ.

If we are coming up upon the start of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period, which begins the final countdown to the end of this present world, then beginning to let go in service to Christ, while still “occupying till He comes,” is the most rational approach.

When the storm of persecution and tribulation finally comes…to borrow a line from the recent movie Elizabeth starring  Cate Blanchett…each person on earth will respond according to their character.

Some will be brought down by the terror of the situation.  Others will flee in fear and attempt to hide.  Christians who have been prepared by God for these events will spread their wings like eagles and soar with the wind.

This is God’s promise to us, and the consistent history of God’s performance in the lives of the people of faith in the Bible.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”    (Isa. 40:31)

The Falling Away 3

Paul writes to Timothy: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2 Tim. 3:1).

This verse, combined with 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3…giving the sequence of a falling away and the revealing of the son of perdition before the rapture… implies that the fiery challenges of the great tribulation period are in full play and producing noticeably prophetic results on a grand scale…by the time the rapture occurs.

Many people believe and teach that all of the prophecies that are required to take place prior to the rapture were fulfilled with the formation of the nation of Israel in 1948.  I am not so sure.

The Bible talks about a great falling away before the coming of the Lord, as quoted above, regardless of whether the “day of the Lord” refers to the rapture or the second coming of Christ.

It talks about scoffers in the last days chiding Christians about the rapture or the second coming not having occurred yet (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

The Bible talks about perilous times, when people’s moral standards and sense of right and wrong will have noticeably deteriorated (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

The Bible talks about believers prophesying, seeing visions and having dreams, to the point that this prophesying is probably recognizable and notable to skeptics and believers alike (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-21).

2 Timothy 4:3-4 talks about a time when people will not endure sound doctrine, but will turn their ears away from the truth.

The gospels tell us not to be afraid when we hear of wars, of nation rising against nation, of great earthquakes, and famines, and pestilences, as if we are still on the earth and not raptured yet (Mt. 24:6; Lk. 21:9).

The Bible tells us that the whole world will be evangelized before the end comes (Mt. 24:14).

These scriptures suggest either an intense preliminary period of distress and spiritual activity containing all of these challenges for the church leading up to the tribulation, or the church still being on the earth for some period of time overlapping into the tribulation.

How might the falling away transpire?

If large numbers of people were attracted to a version of Christianity Light that promised positive-thinking outcomes with no discipleship costs involved, in keeping with our instant coffee, microwave popcorn culture, and they were transported back in time to one of the great persecutions under the Roman emperors in the first or second centuries…then we can easily see where a lot of these people would reconsider their membership in the church.

There was no opportunity for a Great Falling Away during the first three centuries of the Christian church, because there was not the time and population numbers to build up a watered-down, worldly attractive, compromised apostate church in existence that would draw-in millions of nominal adherents.

Life-and-death persecutions under the Roman Empire from time-to- time sifted out nominal believers from the Christian fold, because it truly meant the possibility of death when the authorities would catch and put on trial a professing Christian during these periods of widespread persecution.

In our modern times, people who have joined a church because they are attracted to the positive-thinking, upbeat message of God helping us to obtain better jobs, bigger houses, nicer cars, and better relations with family and friends…through what often amounts to a form of self-realization, will in all probability abandon the Christian church at the first signs of trouble.

People who join a church because it is a friendly club for social networking, family activities, and to make business contacts, will have a difficult time re-evaluating the decision they made for this easy and worldly compromised version of Christianity…when it is compared to the alternate real version of Christianity where believers will have to take a courageous stand for their faith that will cost them their lives (Rev. 12:11).

When the Antichrist changes his tactics from deceptive peace (Dan. 8:25) to deadly persecution, and begins to require people to take the mark of the beast or suffer the consequences…the nominal churchgoers will probably opt for survival (Dan. 3:7).

We can have large, arena-type sanctuaries, with comfortable stadium seating, state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, worldly entertaining “rock and roll” style worship music having over-simplified Christian lyrics that appeal to large numbers of people, and positive-thinking motivational style messages mixed with watered-down Christian doctrines.

But what will it profit if the people who attend these churches do not get challenged and inspired to follow Jesus into an intimate journey of faith?

What will it profit if end-times persecution exposes these types of churches as being shallow and empty in terms of preparing Christians to live lives that would faithfully stand up in the heat of hard times?

What will it profit if people have been mistakenly taught that they could successfully have one foot in the world and one foot in Christ, without any future adverse consequences or reckoning? 

            What will it profit if the external environment of persecution and tribulation removes overnight the possibility of safely attending the currently popular mega-churches, and the churchgoer is left “high and dry” without having established a personal relationship with Jesus Christ with the ability to listen and follow the Holy Spirit on their own?

What will it profit if the end-times churchgoer cannot tell the difference between the counterfeit but worldly appealing Antichrist (Dan. 7:25), and the genuine Jesus Christ who calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him?