Biblical Faith 3

            Does the life-story of Abraham match the analogy that Jesus presents of a seed falling into the ground to die, rising up to produce much fruit?

            Does the postponement of the birth of Isaac the son of promise represent God dangling the desire-of-the-heart out of the reach of Abraham and Sarah for a period of time, for a capricious and ill-intentioned motive, or does utilizing this innately created characteristic in Abraham instead produce the unique context for biblical faith to actualize, to rise-up out of the ground to become a supernaturally created, fruit-bearing tree?

            Does this concept starting with Abraham reside at the pinnacle of moral reasoning, at the very peak of importance in the long expanse of human redemptive history?

            Moving along in the Bible, certainly the life-story of Joseph in Egypt demonstrates over his lifetime the innate, in-built capacity to successfully manage the sheep herding family-business in Canaan. 

            But the series of extraordinary events that leads to Joseph governing the entire nation of Egypt during a great famine, as a Hebrew foreigner, falls outside of not only the human capacity of Joseph to contrive and self-orchestrate, but falls outside of his ability to even imagine ahead of time.

            The information-content that describes the person and life-plan destiny of Joseph, placed inside him like a seed, finds brilliant fulfillment through his God-composed life-script that begins with his innate talents and abilities, tinged with the arrogance of being his father’s favorite son. 

            These innate talents must first fall into the ground and die for a period of time as a servant-slave in Potiphar’s house, and as a falsely accused felon in Pharaoh’s prison, before this divinely composed life-script for Joseph can actualize into concrete reality.

            Moses will not commence the deliverance of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt by killing an Egyptian and hiding his body in the sand.  Moses incorrectly assumed by this action that his Hebrew “brethren” (Acts 7:23-28) would recognize and acknowledge his calling to deliver them from bondage.

            No human power on earth could deliver the Israelites from bondage as slaves in Egypt.

            But at the burning bush, the innate abilities created within Moses, match-up with the God-composed life-script calling for Moses, and he enters into the spectacular and larger-than-life destiny through faith and trust in God and not in himself, that according to Hebrews 11:6 cited above pleases God and benefits a large number of people. 

            Who else in the Bible falls into this same pattern of an information-rich seed first falling into the ground to die before rising out of the ground to become an apple, orange, or avocado tree, to realize their in-built potential?

            Joshua has good reason to fear the heavily fortified, walled cities of the Canaanites that he has been tasked by God to militarily conquer.

            God says to Joshua several times throughout this campaign to conquer the Promised Land: “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed” (Josh. 8:1).

            Yet Joshua and the Israelites have to learn the hard-way on two occasions about the difficulty of the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty (Josh. 7:3-5, 9:14-15).

            Certainly, David knows intimately about the concept of a seed falling into the ground to die, rising up to become a specific “tree” with a specified purpose and destiny bearing much fruit.

            Even though David is anointed at the age of seventeen by the great prophet Samuel to become the next king in Israel, David somehow understands that he cannot help-out God to fulfill his calling when on two occasions David could have taken the life of King Saul (1 Sam. 24:4-7, 26:8-12).

            It would be safe to say that like Joseph in Pharaoh’s prison three months before God gives the famine dream to Pharaoh, David’s low-point at Ziklag (1 Sam. 30:6) comes at the end of the long process of a seed dying in the ground.

            Both Joseph and David rise-up into their respective destinies having their innate talents and abilities still intact, but now redirected within the narrow gate and the hard way of God-sovereignty (Mt. 7:13-14) to be now able to “bring forth much fruit.”   

            Similar scenarios of seeds falling first into the ground to die can be derived from the stories of Gideon (Jud. 7:2), Ruth (Ruth. 1:16-18), Hannah (1 Sam. 1:15-16), Elijah (1 Ki. 19:10), Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7-9), Esther and Mordecai (Est. 4:16-17), Daniel (Dan. 2:12-18), Ezra (Ezra 4:21-24), Nehemiah (Neh. 1:11), Joseph and Mary (Lk. 2:41-52), John the Baptist (Jn. 3:30), Peter (Lk. 22:61-62), James the half-brother of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7), the disciples (Mk. 14:50), the early Christian church as a whole (Acts 8:1), the apostle Paul (Acts 9:3-9), and Jesus Christ (Lk. 22:42), to name a few.

            Self-sovereignty is incapable of “bringing forth much fruit” according to autonomous individualism because human beings lack divine foresight and timeless foreknowledge.

            Only God can write the extraordinary and unconventional biblical narrative stories of faith matching the in-built, personal capabilities of the people of faith with callings that have supernatural missions, goals, and outcomes that are only assessable through the biblical faithdescribed in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6.

            Falling into the ground as a seed to die, picking-up our cross to follow Jesus, entering in at the narrow gate (Mt. 7:13-14), ”hating” this life in terms of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1Jn. 2:15-16) are the necessary components of making the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty, in the realm of the kingdom of God where all things are possible.

            In John 15:5 Jesus is recorded as saying: “I am the vine, ye are the branches:  He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

            The supernatural participation of God in the biblical narrative stories of faith that separates-out atheists and agnostics into unbelief, is the very thing that creates the life within the God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.

            The self-sovereignty of going our own way is the wide gate and the broad way of Matthew 7:13-14 that leads to destruction, because on that broad road of self-autonomy God has no opportunity to make the connection between our created abilities and the life-script He has written for us that can bring forth much fruit.

            Self-sovereignty is the way of rebellion and chaos, of thinking our ways are better than God’s ways and is unacceptable in the kingdom of God in a timeless eternity.

            Only faith and trust in God will push through the adversity of falling into the ground as a seed to first have our own will and ideas die, in order for God to raise us up according to our in-built capacity and destiny, to walk with Him through life along a supernatural path that has the unique and individual context to bring forth much fruit as articulated in the brilliant John 12:24-25 verses quoted above.

Biblical Faith 2

            I do not think it would be a stretch to infer from the life-script of God’s calling of Abraham to say that the desire to produce a family was a high-priority in the information-package divinely created within the “seed” that describes the person and character of Abraham.

            Abraham has everything…wealth, possessions, servants, and a beautiful wife he loves…but he does not have a family upon arrival in Canaan.

            At the very center of the God-composed life-script for Abraham is a promise of descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth, pinpointing at the outset of his calling a divinely created, in-built desire-of-the-heart for Abraham that is accurately utilized by God in fashioning Abraham to become over time, through a series of divinely crafted events the “father of faith.”

            Yet this same created, innate desire for a normal family-life also produces the context for the problem with Sarah, Hagar, and Ishmael. 

            This sets-up the supreme challenge of faith for Abraham on Mount Moriah (modern day Jerusalem) that may be the most difficult test that any human being has ever been asked of God to face, other than Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God two thousand years later at Calvary.

            In other words, God not only crafted the life-script adventure of faith for Abraham, but God as Creator placed within Abraham the unique information-content of being the right “seed” to take this adventure of faith on God’s terms all the way to a successful conclusion, to produce good fruit (Heb. 11:17-19; Rom. 4:3).

            What makes the biblical narrative stories of faith so extraordinary as to validate their divine origin starting with Abraham, is that Abraham’s own ability to produce children of promise through Sarahneeded to fall into the ground to die like a seed in order to rise up as a supernaturally endowed and beneficial life-story. 

            This then rises far above the worldly conventionality of self-produced outcomes through autonomous individualism (Gen. 17:15-19).

            It would appear from the biblical narrative stories of faith that the big-picture, fundamental objective is worldly unconventional to the core.

            The big-picture objective gleaned from the biblical narrative stories of faith examples is not to validate our worth and value according to self-reliant self-achievement (Mk. 8:36) using our created talents and abilities apart from God, but instead to validate an entirely different objective.

            That entirely different objective is to create the unique contexts for biblical faith to actualize into personal relationships between people and God, at the height of our created purpose and destiny.

            Can Abraham produce children on his own within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, without God’s divine intervention, outside of the promises of God?

            The answer is yes. 

            After the death of Sarah, Abraham took another wife, Keturah, who gave birth to Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

            We should not forget that Abraham produced Ishmael his first son through Hagar (Gen. 16:15). 

            But we do know from scripture (Gen. 17:19) that Abraham cannot produce Isaac the son of promise, other than through Sarah.

            The three men that visited Abraham and Sarah in the plains of Mamre recorded in Genesis chapter 18, the leader being called Lord by Abraham (I believe this was Jesus the Son of God) confirms for us that in this critical opening scenario introducing the biblical narrative stories of faith, this worldly unconventional and innovative component of God validates His divine participation in the affairs of mankind.

            This is for the highest imaginable reasons.

            The life-story of Abraham does not validate the fact that Abraham is capable of producing a large and happy family-life on his own according to conventional thinking, but instead that God can create the new reality of biblical faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1.

            The life-script for Abraham has a gap in time between the initial calling of Abraham with God’s promise of descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth, and the fulfillment of this promise coming years later, that forms the context for this biblical faith to actualize into real human life experience.

Biblical Faith

            When God created the seeds for apple, orange, peach, and avocado trees…and for corn, wheat, and barley crops…He placed within each unique type of seed the information that would not only grow into large-sized trees and farm fields as far as the eye can see, but would also produce very specific and different kinds of edible fruits and grains.

            John 12:24-25 records the words of Jesus:

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.                         

            In these verses Jesus introduces a concept that is unique in all of human experience and literary imagination, yet is universally standard within every biblical narrative story of faith.

            This includes His own experience in Gethsemane, at Calvary Hill, and on Resurrection Day.

            There is a pattern that is discernable within the callings of the people of faith in the Bible starting with Abraham’s detailed and highly specific life-script, all the way through to the calling and ministry of the apostle Paul. 

            This pattern authenticates the divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith, but at the same time also provides inspirational guidance as to what Christians today should expect in their callings and mission-plans from God.

            Like the information that is contained within the seed that grows into an apple, orange, or fig tree, God as our Creator knows exactly the precise information He has placed within each and every human being.

            The analogy that Jesus uses in John 12:24 above, of a seed first having to die in the ground in order to emerge as a tree or plant as applied to the people of faith in the biblical narrative stories of faith, reveals to us over the long expanse of human redemptive history different types of people, callings, and missions that match the in-built personalities, capabilities, and characteristics of each specific person.

            This islike the seeds for apple, orange, or avocado trees.

            Like the farmer recognizing and knowing the type of seed they are planting, God knows what He has placed within us to be able to enter successfully into an adventure of faith and to fulfill our unique and singular missions with His assistance along the way.

            One question that is crucial here is how does the apple tree know when it is time to stop growing and begin to produce fruit, to produce apples?

            This information is contained initially in the apple seed, and then in the individual cells of the apple tree.

            The same is true for the born-again Christian today, no matter what is our calling and circumstances.

            One thing that pleases God according to Hebrews 11:6 cited above, is to be able to match-up the innate, in-built capacities He has created within us with a God-composed life-script actualized within the events and circumstances of this present world, for our benefit and for the benefit of other people, through a relationship of mutual trust and faith.

            This dynamic of an adventure of faith is designed by God to last and to endure for eternity.

            This insight of John 12:24-25, universal within every biblical narrative story of faith is so deep it eludes all naturalistic explanations for its origin in the marketplace of ideas. 

            It completely surpasses the reach of the worldly conventionality of humanistic literary imagination.

            This concept is found exclusively in all of literature only in the Bible, actualized in the counterintuitive idea of our worldly conventional ideas dying on our individual crosses, as seeds planted in the ground, alongside Jesus on His cross (Mk. 8:34-35).

            God displaces our self-directed ways with His higher ways and thoughts within a God-composed journey of faith life-script, brilliantly replacing self-sovereignty with God-sovereignty which only God could do.

We Cannot Orchestrate a Journey of Faith

            One of the all-time classic themes of the Bible is that the God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts recorded in the biblical narrative stories of faith are beyond our capacity to contrive or to even imagine ahead of time. 

            As the Creator of everything and everyone, God alone knows our individual attributes and abilities, and thus has the singularly unique starting point for crafting life-scripts for an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul, to name a few of the people of faith in the Bible. 

            Adventures of faith, because of their supernatural origin, stretch people to achieve more than they could have imagined possible. 

            Adventures of faith reveal that God knows us inside and out by the precise matching of our adventure of faith to talents, abilities, and newfound, morally noble characteristics we did not even know ahead of time we possessed. 

            If we could go back in time and interview the people of faith in the Bible, they would tell us unanimously to a person that they initially had no idea they had the innate ability to go as far as God took them, through their individually crafted adventures of faith.

            I think it would be reasonably safe to say that Abraham did not see himself as the future “father of faith” as he walked from the city of Haran toward the land of Canaan (Gen. 17:18). 

            Although Joseph probably had a good sense of his innate leadership talents, it is doubtful that he ever imagined that he would someday become governor of Egypt, while he labored in Potiphar’s house and languished in Pharaoh’s prison. 

            Moses certainly has no way of seeing into the future the great deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, as he tries unsuccessfully to talk God out of the immense calling at the burning bush that Moses now feels he is no longer a qualified candidate for (Ex. 3:11).     

            Gideon objects to God’s calling for him to deliver Israel from the oppressive occupation by the Midianites, saying that he is the least even within his own family (Jud. 3:15).  Gideon then comes-up with his proverbial “fleece-test” to confirm that he correctly understands God’s intentions for him 

            As Ruth the foreigner follows her mother-in-law Naomi back to Naomi’s native country Israel, Ruth has no idea that she will capture the attention and affection of the wealthy, noble, and godly Boaz.  Through her marriage to Boaz, Ruth becomes part of the royal lineage that produced King David and culminated, roughly a thousand years later, in the birth of Jesus Christ the eternal King and Savior.

            Elijah complains to God that he is all alone in his opposition to the evil king Ahab and queen Jezebel (1 Ki. 19:14). 

            Jeremiah protests to God that he is too young to be a prophet (Jer. 1:6). 

            We detect in both Ezra and Nehemiah an underlying, suspenseful trepidation just below the surface in their difficult callings to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, and to rebuild the temple.

            Certainly, Peter is utterly clueless as he goes out of the courtyard of Caiaphas to weep bitterly over his failure to courageously stand by Jesus during His night trial.  Unbeknownst to Peter at the time, standing courageously alongside Jesus would have resulted in Peter needlessly occupying a fourth cross on Calvary the next day. 

            Peter did not realize at the time that the crucifixion of the Son of God for the sins of the world was preordained before the creation of the universe (1 Pet. 1:20), and that Peter’s role at that moment was not to be a martyr for the faith, but to instead be one of the leaders of the early church in Jerusalem. 

            Being the head of the early Christian church and its chief spokesman in Jerusalem amidst intense opposition required a quality of courage and fidelity that Peter painfully discovered in the courtyard of Caiaphas that fateful night, that Peter did not possess on his own without the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8-12).

            Certainly, as Saul/Paul approached the city of Damascus to arrest Christians, he had no idea that he would soon become the foremost champion of the very faith that he started-out opposing with such fearsome persecution. 

            At that precise moment, before the supernatural light of Jesus Christ shined down from heaven upon him, Paul had no idea that he possessed the inner capacity to become the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world.

            Paul could not contemplate ahead of time that he would compose the divinely inspired New Testament letters to the early Christian churches he helped create, that he would develop the love for other people that could write First Corinthians 13:4-8 now famous throughout the modern world, or that he had the innate people skills that could form the intimate relationships revealed in Romans chapter 16.

            All of these people, along with every person of faith recorded in the Bible would testify that the higher plans that God had for them in life stretched them beyond anything they could or would have imagined (Psalm 23).    

            This component of biblical faiththat is a stretch beyond our human ability to contrive or imagine, argues for the divine origin of the Bible. 

            Biblical faith is not armchair philosophy. 

            No human could or would invent it through contemplative imagination.

            The element in the biblical narrative storylines of God displacing our ways with His higher ways is the factual component that entirely excludes all humanistic explanations for the origin of these stories.

            Atheistic critics of Christianity and the Bible today completely miss this biblical faith component in the narrative stories of faith, incorrectly interpreting as myth what in actuality is beyond the inventive imagination of humanistic conventional thinking. 

            The biblical narrative in a modern world inserts an alternate worldview to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking. 

            The biblical narrative offers a new and living way (Heb. 10:20) into human life that contains the guided trajectories of purpose and meaning, in a true way that cannot be orchestrated through worldly conventional normalcy.

The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness 2

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

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

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

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

            The offer of this worldly conventional means by which to save the world that might presumably tempt Jesus, again clothed as a deceptive half-truth but lacking the complete picture was intended for Jesus to take the quick and easy worldly path to accomplishing His mission.

            Whatever was miscalculated by Satan at that moment in time, the underlying destructive intention was to subordinate Jesus to Satan’s authority (Lk 4:7), the main goal of this temptation in the wilderness.

            To sacrifice His unique role and singular opportunity as the Son of God in a human body, in order to accomplish the saving of the world by taking its repair into His own hands by using the standard, worldly conventional means of political power, glory, and influence, to Satan’s thinking might be appealing to Jesus.

            As a “shot-in-the-dark” this corrupted form of self-sacrifice at the enormous cost of abandoning God-sovereignty, of worshipping Satan as the means to an easier way to save the world, might work at that critically opportune time of the physical weakness of Jesus after fasting in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1-4).

            But Jesus emphatically rejects this tempting proposal put forward by Satan, choosing instead the elevated life-script composed by Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).

            Jesus Christ knows His own life-script calling andmission-plan, because Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God in a human body possesses all of the information ahead-of-time (Lk. 2:49; Mt. 9:6, 9:28, 12:40, 26:53-54; Jn. 18:36-37, 19:10-11), being in direct communion and communication with God the Father at all times (Mt. 11:27; Jn 3:34).  

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

            The extraordinary revelation here that illuminates the real truth about God is that Satan at the time of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was incapable of envisioning and comprehending a higher, transcendent mission-plan for Jesus the divine Son of God, to absorb within Himself the sins of the world.

            Satan cannot rise above his own limited capacity and character, in crafting his temptations for Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and for human beings today.

            This is where God can outpace and out-run Satan, as demonstrated in the biblical narrative stories of faith, and in God-composed journey of faith life-scripts for Spirit-born Christians today.

The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness 1

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

            The cleverest and most appealing of the destructive temptations by Satan contain a kernel of partial truth, being half-truths that have some measure of positive value.

            The destructive nature of Satan’s temptations is that they rob the intended target of realizing the fuller benefit of the half-truth being deceitfully offered, having a final, hidden outcome that intentionally and knowingly falls far short of the misleading promise conveyed.

            This is like unknowingly accepting a one-hundred dollar-bill from a counterfeiter, only to find out later at the grocery store that it is worthless.

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

            Human beings were created with the privileged capacity to be able to have a personal relationship with our Creator God, to know Him from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34).

            One of the most misguided tragedies in this life is to become side-tracked by alternative goals that distract, frustrate, and dilute the fully realized human life-script of enjoying a walk with God through life, that actualizes into reality this intimate personal relationship with God.

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

            By taking these classic temptations apart piece-by-piece, sunlight being the best disinfectant, what is revealed is the realtruth about God in our modern world (Jn. 10:10). 

            For example, the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that: “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5), hopelessly falls short of its implied benefit.

            It misleadingly falls short of the whole story, because simply knowing about good and evil alone without the dual accompanying divine capacities of timeless foresight and absoluteperfect character, leads to the despair of failure. 

            It leads to the frustration of not be able to fully achieve consistent success, of not being able to produce and maintain the trouble-free life of secure happiness, of elevated safely above and out of the vulnerable zone of being corruptible and mistake-prone.

            In a nutshell, going our own way at the compromised lower level of lost potential is an accurate description of flawed human nature.  In essence, this is a fundamental explanation for the imperfect record of human history.

            Our modern culture denigrates the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a human invented, literary myth, but the highly sophisticated theme here is far above and outside of the boundaries of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking. 

            To lightly dismiss this Garden of Eden temptation story as having a human imaginative origin, in my opinionis being naïvely uncritical and short-sighted.

            No human literary writer at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis, or in modern times today, could or would get within ten miles of this story of the downward fall of mankind being negatively defined as venturing out on our own within the self-reliance of self-sovereignty, this being the very cornerstone of humanism.

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

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

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

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

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

            But acquiring the knowledge of good and evil alone, as non-divine human beings, does indeed work extremely well if this clearly recognizable deficiency in our nature is repaired by the addition of a personal connection with our Creator God.

            The essence of the biblical narrative stories of faith is that the God of the Bible does possess the divine attributes of timeless foresight and absolute perfect goodness, a reality that is brilliantly patterned for us in the detailed life-scripts of these worldly unconventional, biblical narrative stories of faith.

            The tempting appeal of independently acquiring for ourselves one of the legs of the three-legged stool required as a first-start to becoming “as gods,” the three legs of the stool being at a minimum the knowledge of good and evil, timeless foresight, and perfect character, this hasty and rash decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden carries with it the unimaginably destructive, hidden by-product of going our own way (Isa. 53:6).

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

            The absence of all of the information needed to make a thoughtful decision, of not having the whole picture, identifies this temptation in the Garden of Eden as having such a malicious and destructive intention.

            Its subtlety is masked within a half-truth containing some limited measure of appealing value, enabling us now in hindsight to be able to categorize this temptation by Satan as being an injuriously deceptive evil.

            This is evidenced on a monumental scale as demonstrated every day in the front pages of newspapers around the world, of people having a knowledge of good and evil but being incapable as less-than-divine gods to divinely control life-events consistently towards favorable outcomes.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Perfect Savior

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

            In all of the accounts of the intense opposition from the religious and political leaders the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers that Jesus responds to as recorded in the four New Testament gospels, we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah (Isa. 11:1-5, 35:1-8).

            In His miraculous healings of the blind and the lame, of inspired preaching to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people (Matthew chapters 5-7), and in His personal interactions with His disciples and the common people, we see the traits of virtue we would expect to see actualized through Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), meaning God with us.

            We see truth, honesty, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and uncompromising courage, to name a few positive attributes that give Jesus a grade of A-plus, of perfect 100-percent test scores across-the-board within the broad array of moral concepts we can use as standards for judgment.

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

            But what we do not see today looking back in hindsight into first-century Jerusalem during the time of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, is why the Passover sacrifice of Exodus 12:26-27 had no connection with the Old Testament Judaic understanding of the anticipated, coming Messiah.

            How is it that nearly everyone in and around A.D. 27 in Israel were looking hopefully and expectantly for a Joshua or King David type warrior/priest as Messiah who would expel the loathsome Romans out of their country as had occurred with numerous other enemy invaders in their past national history, and fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of 9:6-7 of God setting-up His eternal kingdom in Jerusalem? 

            No one expected the coming Messiah to also be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice, offering His own body and life for mankind’s sins, according to the obscure and little understood scriptural passages of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

            This is where God’s ways and our ways sharply divide, differentiating the life-script for Jesus Christ as being above and beyond human literary invention.

            God’s higher ways lift the biblical narrative above other contemporary worldview narratives in today’s modern marketplace of ideas.

            But the one area where we canwith solid confidence through the benefit of hindsight today conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection, is that Jesus Christ is living-out His God-composed life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin to the outer limits of absolute perfection.

            The life-script mission of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God would require perfect adherence without any gaps of inconsistency to the uniquely biblical, moral concept of God-sovereignty, Jesus Himself being the Second Person of the Trinity. 

            Self-will to go His own way apart from God the Father and the Holy Spirit is inconceivable at the high level of brilliant pure light and absolute goodness (Lk. 22:42).

            This level of sacrificial love to do the optimum right thing for others would be humanly impossible for anyone other than the messianic God/man Jesus Christ to perfectly actualize.

            Every positive person of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, other than Jesus Christ, have God-composed life-scripts that take into account a built-in allowance for human error (Rom. 4:6-8).

            All of these positive people of faith are nonetheless morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous. 

            The great men and women of faith in the Bible are morally imperfect like the rest of us in the many categories of the broad array of moral concepts, but also in their inability to perfectly follow-through within their God-composed life-scripts, without stumbling and bumbling at certain points along the way in pursuit of their divinely created callings and destinies.

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

            Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther and Mordecai, Ruth, Hannah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…none of these people are morally perfect and sinless. 

            Their life-scripts are based upon Holy Spirit empowered grace-through-faith, and proceed according to their individually exceptional gifts and abilities, plus the creative imagination of God their Creator as life-script Writer.

            These biblical life-scripts are not based upon the self-realization of autonomous individualism built upon the attempt to save ourselves through the self-performance of good-works.

            Programs of self-salvation based upon self-reliance are by definition human-driven and therefore fall short of moral perfection and sinless virtue.

            But the God-composed life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God intentionally exploits and utilizes to the fullest His uniquely divine nature to the maximum extent to be able to perfectly succeed in the one area wherein God knows we will have the mostdifficulty.

            This is the area that is the definition of sin and that the cross on Calvary Hill focuses upon…the area of God-sovereignty versus self-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives compared instead to going our own way in shortsighted self-rulership (Isa. 53:6).

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

            Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46 record that in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest and preliminary trial that Jesus asked His disciples to “watch and pray.” 

            Jesus said that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful.”  The scriptures record that He received the assistance from an angel from heaven to strengthen Him, and that He went back a second time to “pray more earnestly.” 

            Luke 22:44 records that Jesus sweat “great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” a condition known to modern medical science called hematidrosis.[1]

            The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: never the less not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself, for our benefit. 

            The life-script for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body manages to challenge Himself in the one humanly unreachable zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue, of making perfect choices and doing the right thing every time.

            Yet this humanly unreachable zone of perfection is still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning, in the test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane ofGod-sovereignty consistent, unified, and indivisible within GodHimself, within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

            If Jesus does not say in perfect faith without skipping a beat: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” but instead decides to go in another direction other than the cross the next day, at that precise moment in time God-sovereignty would have been split in two

            This would have introduced autonomous individual rebellion into the God-head of the Trinity, of Jesus the Son of God going His own way apart from the Father and away from His ancient destiny as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).

            This unprecedented development of the testing of divinely sinless unity-of-purpose consistent between God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, highlights God-sovereignty as the central issue in all of reality, the top-shelf “queen” of the virtues.


[1] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 195.

Limited Physical Terrain 1

            In our modern world today, we have many more realities we can utilize to form theoretical, skeletal explanatory frameworks in which to conduct scientific research programs.

            As one area of research expands into two or more new avenues of interest to investigate in the natural world, the breadth and depth of knowledge increases at an exponential rate, which then likewise increases the number of new explanatory stories needed to add meaning, structure, and intelligibility to the raw data.

            This modern reality also generates enumerable possible analogies that can be spun-off these skeletal explanatory frameworks which permeate science, that were non-existent in 1859 when Darwin published The Origin of Species.

            For example, anyone living in Southern California in 2022 understands the concept that after putting a few warm-up miles on a recently purchased new automobile, that upon the first time entering onto one of our major freeways our new automobile must get quickly up to at least 65 miles per hour on the on-ramp in order to blend safely into the flow of traffic (except during the start-and-stop traffic congestion at rush-hour).

            There is no such thing as entering onto the 405 freeway in a 1920 Ford Model-T automobile having a top-speed of 30 miles per hour, and then safely navigating into the number two lane with the other automobiles driving 70 miles per hour.

            This analogy regarding the immediate required fit of adequate velocity on the freeways of Southern California, of having an automobile that can enter into the fast-lane and survive within the biodiversity of different models of modern automobiles all driving within the narrow parameter of 65 to 75 miles per hour, was obviously a concept unavailable to the people of Darwin’s time.

            The required conditions of driving on roadways in 1920 for the Ford Model-T no longer apply to the high-speed freeways of today, not only in the vehicles being driven but also in the quality of the roads.

            But what is most important to understand from this modern analogy, that was not accessible in 1859 to help formulate accurate scientific theories, is that there is no space or lanes on the modern freeway set-aside or designated for experimental, trial-and-error, incrementally improving automobiles half-way towards fully functional development.

            A person owning and driving a 1920 Model-T as a member of a local classic car club, can get from one weekend classic car show to the next by using the non-freeway surface streets, or by going in-mass as a large group early in the morning on one or more of the freeways staying exclusively in the far-right, slow lane.

            But a person owning a classic, old-model car would not venture-out daily into the morning commuter traffic at 5 A.M. on the major freeways of Southern California into traffic going 70 to 75 miles per hour, in a vehicle only capable of driving at a top-speed of 30 to 35 miles per hour.  

            And we do not see on these freeways a mix of experimental vehicles all blending together at various speeds, of one-man solar powered vehicles, or one-man aerodynamic human-powered bicycles, or battery powered skateboards, or hybrid cars that can also fly, or jet-propelled cars that can travel at a top-speed of 400 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

            These major freeways in Southern California do not have 10 lanes going each direction, with some lanes being used within the common range of 65 to 75 miles per hour, and the remaining lanes set-aside for a hybrid-blend of vehicles still in the trial-and-error, experimental phases of development.

            The obvious, crossover question we can draw from this analogy to the natural living world, is do we see unlimited physical terrain on the African savanna plains for as-yet undeveloped cheetahs having a top running speed of only 35 miles per hour, chasing as-yet not fully developed Thompson’s gazelles with a top running speed of 30 miles per hour, in areas separated from fully developed cheetahs and Thompson’s gazelles running at top speeds of 70 mph and 65 mph respectively?

            And are there additional intermediate zones where we find Cheetahs with top running speeds of 20 mph, and still other incremental zones with cheetahs having variable running speeds of 40 to 60 mph?

            Do we see giraffes off in another area of a vastly larger continent of Africa, with half-way developed neck lengths feeding on the leaves part-way up trees mid-height, in a separate geographical zone set-aside for an enumerable number of developing organisms, all part-way along their journey towards their full architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits?

            One of the modern daggers through the heart of the worldview of naturalistic materialism is that there is not enough physical terrain to support the concept of a blind, mindless, accidental, trial-and-error, gradual process to reach function for the ten-million living species on earth…utilizing small-step, transitional, progressive development.

            Our earth would need many more times its surface area to support the quality of trial-and-error development that Darwinian evolution contemplated, similar to the ten or more lanes going each direction on our major freeways to accommodate a varied blend of vehicles all going at different speeds.

            What should have been obvious to Charles Darwin observing the finches on the 13 islands of the Galapagos Archipelago, is that these finches were already at their functionally developed phase of being able to drive 70 mph in the fast-lane, on the freeway of the unique biodiversity and ecology of these slightly varied islands.

            What appeared to Darwin as microevolutionary adaptation, might be analogous to these finches as they flew the relatively short distances (for birds) in the long-ago past to spread-out over these 13 islands, as speeding-up from 65 mph to 70 mph to changes lanes on the freeway, to move into a slightly faster lane.

            Darwin did not observe macroevolution actually taking place in the finches living on these islands, but observed differing finches all existing at the mature levels of survival and reproduction…of change having already occurred.

            All of Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Archipelago at the time he observed them, were in essence driving on the freeway at 70 mph.

            As a layman reading books and watching presentations and debates on the Internet, if I am not mistaken the Galapagos Island chain does not have the necessarily broad ecosystem to support birds-of-prey. 

            There is not a profusion of small rodents as prey for hawks, eagles, and owls, and there are no small cats to catch and eat finches.

            It would appear that Darwin’s finches have no serious predators on these islands situated roughly 600 miles west of the South American continent at the equator.

            Because the Galapagos Archipelago is an island chain with limited surface area separated by water, the finches are the perfect test-tube subject for highlighting limited physical terrain that validates the concept of living organisms entering into existence at the completed end-points of development…able to immediately enter from the on-ramp into the fast-lane of the freeway at 65 to 70 mph in order to be able to survive and to reproduce.

            The challenging environment of the Galapagos Islands, which Darwin described as barren and visually inhospitable, yet teaming with incredibly varied and interesting life-forms, is the fast-lane of biodiversity and ecological balance.

            If we do not find Darwin’s finches or anything else part-way along a slowly developing path towards some future end-point of typologically defining essence on these isolated islands, then we will not find it anywhere else.

            If the earth can be described, in any geological era as always being a Southern California type freeway having narrowly defined parameters for the required velocity to enter into the flow-of-traffic, and to maintain a safe speed of 65 to 70 mph to blend into the predator/prey relationships of the various models of automobiles on these freeways, then the gradualism of Darwinian evolution lacks the available physical space to be considered a sensible option for explaining the vast diversity of life today.

The Thief on the Cross 3

            Why is truth important?

            If this universe is purely matter and energy only, then what is even the point of discerning truth from error?  What does it matter in the long-run if there is no purpose or meaning in the universe?

            Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

            If purpose and meaning do exist in the universe, then is matter and energy capable of producing a search for truth?  And why would it do so?

            From the theistic viewpoint, the very existence of an Oxford debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins on this particular topic implies subtly that God has buried scientific materialism, because the question of which worldview has buried the other worldview should be illogically incapable of arising out of a purely material universe.

            Scientific materialism dissolves itself by its mere existence as a debatable issue, because by definition this question is too complex for a purely material universe devoid of purpose and meaning.

            But the really dangerous thing today is that scientific materialism is capable of burying science itself, by undermining its credibility.

            From the time of 1859 with the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, to shortly after DNA was discovered in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson, and Fred Hoyle began to study the fine-tuning of carbon resonance inside super-hot stars to create oxygen and carbon…until roughly then science was a safe haven for the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism.

            But where does it get us if scientific materialists discover a purely naturalistic, self-assembling mechanism inside living cells that explains the vast diversity of life?

            Where does it lead if it can be proven by modern science that there exists an all-encompassing theory of everything, that supports a purely material universe without the need for an intelligent designing agent?

            The worldview of naturalistic materialism by definition leads to total annihilation, no other outcome being possible.

            In a purely material universe, the race towards truth in science is a race towards recognizing and codifying oblivion.

            But what if the vote-count from modern science in terms of evidentiary facts tells us that intelligent agency won the election, and a materialistic Mother Nature lost?

            As humans we do not choose to place our faith and trust in the God of the Bible because we want the universe to have purpose and meaning, because we want our lives to likewise have purpose and meaning.

            This would be wishful thinking squared or cubed, based upon nothing factual.

            But if the organized complexity we see everywhere in the natural world tells us intelligent agency won the election, then the next step is to see if we can recognize and differentiate truth beyond the physical universe, within human experience.

            This admittedly is not easy coming from a secular perspective.

            The strange reality in 2022 at the time of the completion of this book, is that discerning and differentiating between genuine truth and fabricated conspiracy theories occupies the central place in both politics and science.

            If we are saying the presidential election in 2020 in America was stolen because we want a different outcome, if after qualified election officials say that this election was one of the most accurate in U.S. history, if we still insist upon our preferred outcome then we have abandoned the validity of evidentiary facts.

            If most of the evidence from modern science today and general appearances in the natural world point towards the existence of intelligently organized complexity, if we still insist on our preferred worldview of atheistic materialism, then we are rejecting the basic tenet of scientific investigation to follow the facts impartially wherever they lead in the larger search for truth.

            Scientific materialists who loudly proclaim their allegiance to the empirical quality of factual evidence on the one hand, yet on the other hand dismiss the design evidence in the natural world that nearly everyone else sees, to argue this design away as a mere illusory artifact of the wishful thinking of our need to imagine a designer god, calls into question the impartiality of humans to adjudicate anything complex towards a near-perfect conclusion.  

A Genuine, Biblical-Quality Journey of Faith is Hard

            One of the most difficult and challenging things in all of human experience is to place our faith in the God of the Bible to help us through a crisis.

            The biblical narrative stories of faith have life-scripts that are filled with life-and-death challenges that are the direct opposite of the pursuit of a life-of-ease.

            In God-composed journey of faith life-scripts in the Bible, there seems to be an equilibrium between the progress achieved in an adventure of faith and the spiritual opposition that pushes back, and/or the challenges inherent in simply choosing to do the right thing when this is hard.

            Abraham and Sarah producing Ishmael, Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, Joseph enduring the difficult training program in leadership in Egypt, Moses and the Israelites trapped at the shore of the Red Sea as the Egyptian chariot army approaches to destroy them, Joshua discouraged by the height and strength of the walled cities in Canaan like Jericho, Ruth’s leap of faith in following her mother-in-law to the foreign land of Israel, Hannah’s dilemma in not being able to provide her husband with children, David’s difficult walking through the valley of the shadow of death in preparation to become king…not o mention Elijah, Jeremiah, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, and Paul to name only a few from the Bible.

            But why does Jesus the perfect and sinless Son of God encounter resistance from the very time of His birth?

            One reason is that His life must be a model for ours, in order to be real.

            If the life-script for Jesus was a clear life-of-ease, then this reality would be an unattainable model for the vast majority of people.

            But equally applicable, Jesus incarnate in a human body has the same adversary Satan that we do (Lk. 4:1-13).

            I may be that resistance is the only way that strength is created…like lifting weights.

            One thought is that life in this broken world cannot ever remove the counterforce of challenge, because this current environment is the perfect “boot camp” for discovering the genuine knowledge of good and evil when pursued through the redemptive salvation of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

            The parable of the rich fool (Lk. 12:16-21) describes the worldly unconventional approach of the biblical narrative stories of faith to pursue the higher ideal of a purposeful life that transcends above the mere pursuit of a life-of-ease.

            The only resistance-free environment is the spiritual kingdom of God in heaven, that awaits believers in the upcoming eternity.

            Trying to obtain it here and now is a fruitless endeavor (Mk. 8:34-38).

            Rare metals like gold and silver are purified in the heat of a furnace.

            Jesus did not need purifying or perfecting as He is the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.

            But He did have to model perfect faith and behavior in the face of opposition.

            Jesus had to exemplify in action the divine character of God as the Passover Lamb of God in order to qualify as the substitutionary atonement for our sins so that we could with impunity venture-out into an adventure of faith without our many mistakes counting against us.

            The brilliant program of redemptive salvation enables an adventure of faith following our God-composed journey of faith life-scripts amidst the resistance of the fiery furnace of spiritual opposition, but also the fundamental challenge of walking by faith and not be sight (2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:1).

            This reality is channeled and guided by God to produce lessons-learned that likewise qualify us through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross, and through His resurrection, to likewise be the children of God.

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