One Purpose of Redemptive Salvation

            In redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ, God the Father sees believers through the rose-colored glasses of optimistic and supportive love, because He is the one who envisioned and instigated the concept of the 4-wheel drive vehicle of this fallen, imperfect yet redeemed human nature.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:7).

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11).

            We are saved by grace through faith and not by our own self-performed good works…to have the invaluable opportunity to discover the knowledge of good and evil through the “safe-conduct” of a God-sanctioned and authorized journey of faith research program.

            We learn by making mistakes, and if we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Mt. 5:6) and waling in the Spirit (Rom. 8:2), God is able to flip our mistakes into guided lesson-plans through His deliberate, positive intentions.

            A fallen yet redeemed nature enables believers to venture out into the rough and tumble, likewise fallen world and using the microscopic and telescopic lens of our imperfect moral nature…inhabiting earthen vessels…be able to comprehend the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil…while also having the critical element of the humility of recognizing that the security of our eternal salvation lies in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and is not dependent upon our perfect moral performance.

            Only God could set all of this up to function within the reality of this broken world.

            Through the divine concept of redemptive salvation by grace through faith, God is able to flip our imperfect fallen nature into the very vehicle we would need to successfully explore the ups and downs within the knowledge of good and evil…exhibiting on God’s part the highest excellence of leadership in wisely pushing power downward for people to learn and grow through first-hand experience, guided within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts as patterned for us through the biblical narrative stories of faith from Enoch through Paul.

            Each of the positive characters in the Bible walked with God through their callings and mission-plans, while still inhabiting imperfect moral natures.

            When I became a Christian at age 18, God forgave my sins past, present, and future…so that I could with confidence enter into a risk-filled adventure of faith, knowing in advance that the many mistakes I would make along the way would not jeopardize the security of my eternal salvation…because this research program designed by God through redemptive salvation has the very intention that I can learn and benefit from my mistakes.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph. 1:7).

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21).

Human Beings Progress through Trial-and-Error

            When we watch the men’s final in the 100-meter running event in the Olympics, for example, we know that the runners were not selected at random from the general population and put forward in race gear to sprint for the gold medal.  The ten runners in the men’s Olympics 100-meter race finals are all world-class, elite runners who have each trained for years to be able to run this distance in under 10 seconds.

            The several years of individual training are done behind-the-scenes in advance preparation leading up to the race, and for each runner hopefully ends with the goal of a once-in-a-lifetime, gold-medal performance during this very short but marquee track and field event.

            A documentary film-maker may record the up-and-down training regime of the progression of the would-be sprinter to reach world-class speed, and put this into a short film as part of the color commentary for the televised summer Olympics, but generally we are not privy to the dedication, perseverance, and dogged determination of the elite athlete’s incremental upward progression over time from being merely fast at the collegiate level to becoming world-class fast…to be one of a very select few to make-it into the men’s final in the 100-meter race in the Olympics.

            On the African savanna plains, when we watch the high-speed, life-and-death chase between the cheetah and the Thompson’s gazelle, we know that there has been no behind-the-scenes training preparation leading-up to this exhibition of literally world-class running speed, other than the normal growth to adulthood.  We know that there is no behind-the-scenes training for each of these magnificent animals because the natural living world is open to observation and investigation.  The exquisite running speeds of the cheetah and the Thompson’s gazelle are a product of their instinctual lifestyle habits that match perfectly their unique architectural body-plans…that come fully functional and ready for use right “out of the box” with no tools or assembly instructions required.

            One aspect that makes the defining essence of human beings uniquely discontinuous with the rest of the natural living world is that mankind progresses through the trial-and-error process of lessons-learned by making mistakes.

            Over the course of the modern Scientific Revolution, the two Industrial Revolutions, the American political experiment that people could be self-governing through a representative democracy based upon individual virtue, and the fine-tuning of market systems of economy and trade, we should have known that mankind would eventually reach a point in time when some of the fundamental questions of reality would be within reach of solid answers.

            We have always been headed in the right direction through mistakes and blunders combined with an innate inner drive to discover the purposes behind the workings of the natural world, and to find the reality of our existence…which is entirely different from the automatic program of inherited instinctual lifestyle habits that come fully functional in the examples of the cheetah and the Thompson’s gazelle.

            The idea that a mindless and indifferent-to-outcomes Mother Nature working through matter-and-energy alone could produce this discontinuous dichotomy between the out-of-the-box functionality of instinctual lifestyle habits in the natural living world, in stark contrast to the cognitive reasoning capacity of human beings to progress through trial-and-error mistakes as their uniquely defining essence, should at this modern times be rejected as a “just-so” bed-time story because of its over-simplicity.   

            If we have learned anything over the course of human history, it is that our natural world, the interaction between human beings, and the nature of truth are not simplistic.

            Drilling down deeper into this concept that we progress through the process of lessons-learned by making mistakes, what makes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet a tragedy is not that the principle characters are stupid, but rather that they make errors in judgement and reasoning that coalesce over the course of their short-lived romance into a catastrophic outcome.

            In the backyard garden scene where Juliet on the balcony declares her love for Romeo hiding unbeknownst below until he reveals himself and climbs up a tree to join her, embrace, kiss, and declare his love for her…at that point the right course of action is easy to see.

            Juliet should have said that she would speak to her father privately the next day and tell him that she was in love with Romeo the son of his enemy, and that their union would be the perfect solution to “bury their strife” between the two families.  Romeo should say that he would likewise talk to his father in private, and tell him that he was in love with Juliet the daughter of his enemy, that she loved him, and that their union in marriage would remove the enmity between the families and be heartily welcomed by the Prince of the city of Verona.

            If these two options failed, then Plan B would have Romeo requesting a private meeting with the Prince to explain the benefits of throwing his considerable support and influence behind a marriage between Romeo and Juliet, leading to the bad option of Romeo seeking the guidance of the friar who comes-up with his hair-brain scheme that eventually leads to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

            William Shakespeare can create this brilliantly tragic storyline because he is working with the reality of a human environment that is deliberately designed to be a research program of discovery through the trial-and-error process of lessons-learned by making mistakes.  The tragedy in Romeo and Juliet is that the progression of poor judgments and decisions within the context of their family’s relationships snow-balls downhill through a series of “hideous misadventures” to a deadly finale.

            This should tell us something vitally important about the reality of our existence, about the redemptive salvation feature of the Christian gospel message, about the uniquely biblical originality of God displacing our ways with His higher ways through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, and about the 2 Corinthians 4:7 concept that we inhabit the “earthen vessels” of imperfect moral natures as the perfect 4-wheel drive research vehicles in order to traverse the rough terrain of this equally broken and fallen world…in discovery of the knowledge of good and evil with the God-sanctioned and approved intention for us to learn by our mistakes…all the while redeemed by grace through faith in Christ.

            The structure and organized complexity of the biblical narrative stories of faith, of God inserting His higher ways and thoughts into our life-scripts to be able to add His timeless foresight and brilliant pure light into this research program for us aided by the microscopic and telescopic lens of a fallen imperfect nature…to have the capacity to understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts integral within the knowledge of good and evil…overturns the serendipitous tragedy of Romeo and Juliet stumbling through the dark of this same human environment without this participation of God within a God-composed journey of faith life-script that always achieves the optimum outcome of individual destiny.

            Modern science has discovered complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information everywhere we look in the natural world.  The micro-molecular machinery inside living cells coordinates an unimaginably diverse ensemble of parts to assemble proteins into different cell types that make living creatures from elephants to humans…to highlight just one example.

            Redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ to enable research programs into the knowledge of good and evil…through the safe-conduct of the impunity of not having our many mistakes jeopardize the security of our eternal salvation (Mt. 5:6; Rom. 7:15-8:4)…by the deliberate intention of the Creator God of this universe…is so originally brilliant that it could not possibly derive from this same trial-and-error process of lessons-learned by making mistakes…and is thus a self-existent, fundamental concept that could not have arisen through human invented mythology…could not be the product of human literary imaginative fiction.

            Shakespeare takes us a far as he can in Romeo and Juliet.  God takes us much farther into the depths of reality in the biblical narrative stories of faith.  

Only God Can Procure the Validation of Our Self-Worth

            Once a family is broken by divorce, it is thereafter difficult to individually validate the children with a healthy sense of self-worth, because the family is infused with the opposite sense of the failure of separation.

            The family unit has failed.

            This describes the injurious aspect of the separation that occurred within the family of God at the fall in the Garden of Eden.

            A separation occurred.

            God foresaw this coming (Rev. 13:8), but was not the reason for this split.

            Redemptive salvation by grace through faith starting with repentance (Eph. 2:8-9) inaugurates the means by which we are connected back with God…the family reunites.

            The concept that our imperfect natures act as research vehicles into the discovery and comprehension of the knowledge of good and evil (2 Cor. 4:7; Rom. 7:15-8:4; Mt. 5:6; Jn. 8:36) is designed to get at the root cause of the split that originally occurred in the Garden of Eden.

            God is so brilliant that He can take our imperfect fallen natures and flip this into a positive, because He alone understands that a perfect person living in a perfect world would not be able to learn first-hand about the knowledge of good and evil…through the empirical task-master of lessons-learned through making mistakes.

            This is why redemptive salvation is by grace through faith and not self-performed good-works…because we need the vantage point of the lens of a fallen nature to be able to understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil, but also the humility of occupying “earthen vessels” so that over-inflated self-opinion…self-righteousness…does not block our ability to share the gospel message to other people as lost and broken as we were.

            God…the “head of the household” working with believers who will give Him the benefit-of-the-doubt (Heb. 11:1, 6) re-instigates the healthy validation of His children through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…functional and operational for every Spirit-born Christian today.

One Size Does Not Fit All in the Complexity of Life

            One size does not fit all in the instinctual lifestyle habits in the natural living world. 

            There are no 3-step or 5-step plans that functionally apply to the lifestyle habits of lions, cheetahs, and leopards in the same cat family…much less to elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffes, and wildebeest on the African savanna plains.

            Cheetahs instinctively know not to chase zebras, which they can easily run after and catch, because zebras are too large in size for a single cheetah to wrestle to the ground.  Lions do not bother to hunt Thompson’s gazelles because lions cannot run fast enough to catch them.  Lions instinctively know that their larger sized body-plans and strength rather than running speed…are not suited to chasing after the swift-footed Thompson’s gazelle. 

            When we consider the ten-million living species on the earth, the diversity of the biological and ecological systems are so complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated that a one size fits all approach to survival is instead brilliantly divided into unique architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits that reveal a creative imagination for innovative thinking that is truly mind-boggling.

            We also see this same high quality of creative imagination for innovative thinking in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            Because the complexity of the biological and ecological systems in the natural living world support the diversity of life-forms we see on our planet earth, this has a similar parallel to the reality of the events and circumstances of this current fallen world that is likewise too complex for simplistic, one size fits all solutions.

            The life-script for Abraham is different from the life-script for Joseph in Egypt, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary, Peter, James, Paul, and of course for Jesus Christ the Son of God.

            Joseph cannot live Abraham’s life.  David’s calling is not to deliver the Israelites from Egypt and to part the Red Sea.  No one else can perform the unique role of John the Baptist.  Only one person…Mary…can be the mother of Jesus Christ.  Only the blemish-free and morally perfect Jesus Christ can be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin, walking within a singularly unique life-script divinely composed before the foundation of the earth (Rev. 13:8).   

            There are two important lessons we can draw from this comparison of the diversity we see in the natural living world and the diversity we see in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            First, the redemptive salvation in the Bible comes by grace through faith and not through a program of self-performed good works…the faith of Abraham actualized in his life-script four hundred years before the introduction of the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:17-18).

            By having a diversity of life-scripts for journeys of faith, not only does the God of the Bible match our unique talents and abilities to very specific callings and mission-plans, but uniquely diverse life-scripts for believers excludes our tendency to co-op a simplistic 3-point or 5-point plan and apply it to our lives using the humanistic self-reliance of self-sovereignty.

            Salvation by grace through faith enables the diversity of uniquely composed journey of faith life-scripts that engender a personal relationship with God (Jer. 31:31-34) that is not attainable through the individual autonomy of self-sovereignty sitting atop the thrones of our lives.

            Second, salvation by grace through faith sets-up the unimaginably counterintuitive reality whereby we can enter into a research program into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…inhabiting the 4-wheel drive vehicle of a fallen moral nature (2 Cor. 4:7)…redeemed and sanctified through the cross and resurrection of Christ to be able to traverse over the rough terrain of this equally fallen world.

            The brilliance of this scheme of salvation is the recognition that an understanding of the broad array of moral concepts contained within the knowledge of good and evil can only be achieved through the microscopic and telescopic lens of a fallen yet redeemed nature, possessing the humility of repentance in order to be open and teachable, but also coming at the massive complexity of the knowledge of good and evil while occupying the “earthen vessel” of a fallen nature to be able to comprehend the subtle nuances of the issues involved.

            Human life in reality is every bit as complex as the biological and ecological systems in the natural living world, and therefore required a diversity of life-scripts for human beings in the same way that lions need their own unique instinctual approach to survival and reproduction that is entirely different from the instinctual lifestyle approach for their related cousins the cheetah and leopard, and even more diverse from that of elephants, hippopotamus, and giraffes.

            The modern recognition of the correlation between the two innovative realities of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of the ten-million species in the living world, with the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith, and experienced by Christians today…lifts these two realities above a causal explanation coming from the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism.

            The complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated God-composed journey of faith life-scripts that precisely match the talents and abilities of individually diverse people…is a concept that could not be the product of human literary invented mythology.

            The vast diversity we see in both the natural living world and the events and circumstances of human life, reveals a universe of reality that is at the opposite end of the spectrum-line from one size fits all.

            In my opinion, this reality requires a mature explanation for its origin that far exceeds the hopelessly simplistic explanation that matter/energy alone can produce the organized complexity we see in the natural world and in human life.

            Only intelligent agency could produce the broad diversity of the architectural body-plans and instinctual lifestyle habits in the natural living world, and only an intelligent agent God could compose life-scripts for human beings that enable them to investigate first-hand the nuances of the knowledge of good and evil…made possible by the redemptive salvation of grace by faith that enables me to enter into the risk of an adventure of faith following the leading of Jesus Christ…without jeopardizing my salvation through my own imperfect performance along the way.

            One size does not fit all in the natural living world, and one size does not fit all in the biblical narrative stories of faith from Enoch through Paul.  This argues for the same creative God active in both these spheres of reality.

The Suffering of Paul was not Payback…Part 1

            The statement of Jesus to Ananias in a vision in Damascus that Jesus would show Saul/Paul the suffering that would be a part of the ministry that Paul was being called into to take the gospel message to the Jews and Gentiles in the larger Greco-Roman world…was upfront knowledge for Paul’s sake of what to anticipate in this challenging calling, and not a tit-for-tat payback for the persecution Saul/Paul had waged against the early Christian church (Acts 9:15-16).

            Jesus Christ is the blemish-free and sinless Passover Lamb of God yet suffers the cross for the benefit of others…leading the way into a new and higher reality we humans could never envision or initiate in our lives. 

            This is the true calling and discipleship for all believers…to experience first-hand some measure of the divine love of God expressed through us in benefit to others…to actualize through a God-composed journey of faith life-script the greater love of laying down our lives for our friends (Jn. 15:13).

            The upcoming suffering that Jesus revealed to Paul at the time of his conversion involved the logical mechanics of how to obtain a real and genuine knowledge of good and evil, which Saul/Paul mistakenly thought he possessed when he persecuted the early Christian church, and was not the justice of payback for the harm Paul had caused.

            All of the resistance, pushback, adversity, and suffering that Paul experienced in the coming days of his evangelical outreach ministry to the Greco-Roman world…is simply and truly the reality of the research program investigating the knowledge of good and evil that would inform the inspiration for writing the New Testament letters to the early Christian churches that have helped countless Christians down to our current time.

            Saul/Paul thought he was doing God service by persecuting the aberrant Christian church, and God took this upward into a higher place through a God-composed adventure of faith life-script that eventually produced the divinely inspired truth of Paul’s New Testament letters to the churches, and the loving relationships revealed in Romans 16.

            In this regard, we do not understand sin rightly.

            2 Corinthians 4:7 reads: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (Bold and italics mine).

            Our imperfect fallen nature is the 4-wheel drive research vehicle divinely enlisted and sanctioned to take us into the real-world exploration of the knowledge of good and evil in an imperfect fallen world. 

            The God of the Bible is so brilliant He can take our fallen sinful nature and instantly flip it into a positive…that no human literary genius could imagine and no counterfeit program of self-salvation through the performance of good works could contemplate.

            Paul’s divinely orchestrated ministry occurs while he is still in his fallen condition (Rom. 7:15-25).  Paul’s frame-of-reference for the challenging journey of faith that can produce the inspiration and wisdom of his New Testament letters to the churches…is not through the vantage point of self-righteous moral perfection achieved through self-realization or supernaturally instilled by God at conversion, but instead through the humble lens of a redeemed fallen nature.

            This is unimaginable creativity…except through the insightful mind of the God of the Bible.

            When I became a Spirit-born Christian at age 18, I was not instantly transformed into a perfect moral person.

            My sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross past, present, and future, intentionally so that I can enter into a risk-filled adventure of faith confidently knowing upfront that my eternal salvation is not threatened or jeopardized by the certainty that my own performance will at times fall far short of perfection.

            All of the positive characters of faith in the Bible likewise proceeded through their individual callings and mission-plans while still inhabiting human natures that are imperfect.

            God was not surprised by the fall in the Garden of Eden, forcing Him unexpectedly into a reactive countermove, in response to Adam and Eve uncritically accepting the word of Satan in the spiritualized form of a beguiling talking serpent…taking and eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God told them not to eat (Rev. 13:8).

            The timeless God of the Bible had the plan of redemptive salvation in place upfront to supply the real way into obtaining the knowledge of good and evil, that could never have been achieved with any depth or staying power through merely eating a piece of fruit.

            Our imperfect nature is the precise vehicle needed to comprehend the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts in play within the knowledge of good and evil…fully expressed in action in this broken world.

            If we hunger and thirst after righteousness (Mt. 5:6) by way of the assistance of the Holy Spirit as new creations in Christ (Gal. 2:20), then Roman 8:1-4 becomes operative in our lives:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1).

            Our fallen nature redeemed through the cross of Christ (Jn. 3:14-15) by grace through faith, enables believers to enter into a God-composed journey of faith life-script designed specifically for us after the pattern in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            This sophisticated research program matching our created capacity to understand the nuances of good and evil through empirical first-hand experience…is on the same high level that we can understand the technical depths of the phenomena in the natural world through analytical scientific investigation.

            The one caveat here is that a research program into the knowledge of good and evil through the lens of a redeemed fallen nature, must have the mind-set and heart attitude that our adventure of faith must be Christ-led and not self-orchestrated…as expressed in the following verses from the Bible:

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  (Jn. 8:36).

“For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love to serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13). 

“As free, and not using you liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as servants of God.” 1 Pet. 2:16).

“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set you affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:1-3).

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10).

            We cannot learn about good and evil any other way.  We need the vehicle of a redeemed fallen nature, as the only possible route, to be able to comprehend and assimilate the knowledge of good and evil…that will last for our benefit for an eternity in the timeless environment of heaven…and bring some measure of “peace, and good will toward men” (Lk. 2:14) through the living-out of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts here and now on earth.  

Could the Story of Jesus Christ be Human Literary Invention?

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”                                                                                                             (Jn. 20:31)

            In the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, He encounters push-back from the religious elites in Israel generally and in Jerusalem specifically, which exhibits the unmistakable characteristic of self-righteousness.

            This is displayed in the lack of empathy for the common people…the attitude of looking-down-their noses at the less-educated general public…which then stereotyped Jesus into the lower category of being a common, middle-class artisan carpenter coming from the insignificant small-town of Nazareth in Galilee (Jn. 7:15). 

            This lack of empathy for the common people was the exact opposite of what we should expect from religious leaders who are supposed to be in the business of helping other people.

            The self-righteous character of the religious elites, painfully pointed-out by Jesus throughout His ministry…is too numerous in the New Testament gospels to be discussed in detail here (Mt. 3:7-12; Lk. 4:16-30; Mt. 5:20, 9:10-13, 16:11-12, 20:25-28; Lk. 11:39-52; Jn. 5:38, 7:19, 7:49, 8:24, 40, 44, 9:34).

            The attribute of humility that is revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God…in temporarily leaving His position in heaven as the divine Second Person of the Trinity…to be born into a common family in Nazareth as a human and learning the trade of becoming a carpenter from his stepfather Joseph…exhibits the broadest imaginable range of character in assuming the most worldly humble status in contrast to His true identity.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ is Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper…times ten…combining royalty and humility in the same Person.

            Align this with the worldly practical reality that a perfect moral person could never be crucified as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world…because it would be socially and culturally impossible to get such a perfect person all the way to the utter rejection of the cross on Calvary Hill…unless they were for starters the most commonplace of persons according to outward appearances…according to worldly conventional status.

            How do you get a perfectly sinless, blemish-free Lamb of God person all the way to the cross at Calvary?

            The story of the life of Jesus Christ is real…because it cannot be human literary fiction…because it is too worldly unconventional.

            The story of Jesus not only requires targeted script-writing of unimaginably insightful creative invention, but also the wherewithal to actually pull it off…to not merely talk-the-talk on paper…but to walk-the-walk in concrete reality in our modern first-century…within a singular life-script that even manages to challenge God Himself in the divinely exclusive area of perfect God-sovereignty…a concept that no human writer could or would invent.

            The brilliance of God here is seen in the journey of faith life-script for Jesus…based upon perfect trust, perfect integrity, and perfect truth…contrasted with the disastrous end-point product of the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes in first-century Jerusalem, their actions being the direct result of crafting our own individual life-script programs according to the self-performance of good-works, of attempting to earn our way to heaven, the exact opposite of the life-story of Abraham justified by faith (Rom. 4:3).

            On the night before His crucifixion…in the Garden of Gethsemane…Jesus reveals the free-will difficulty of staying perfectly within God-sovereignty when He says: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Lk. 22:42).

            If Jesus deviates even a hair’s breadth from His life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, and says this is too difficult as originally planned and that He is going His own way in search of an easier and less costly salvation method than the cross…then the unity of God-sovereignty within the Trinity of the Godhead would have been broken for the first time in eternity.

            Here God is not only revealing something personal about Himself, but He is telling us one of the most profoundly amazing facts in all of eternity…that He can compose a thrilling and suspense-filled final chapter for the life of Jesus Christ on earth…that manages to challenge Himself in the precise area of God-sovereignty that we will have the most trouble with.

            God is telling us here, that not only is Jesus Christ taking upon Himself the sins of the world…on the cross…but that the life-script for Jesus composed by God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), intentionally factors-in Gethsemane and Calvary.

            The life-script for Jesus contains the unimaginable feature that God can now personally relate to our understandably human struggle to make the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty…a new and novel experience set-up for the divine Son of God living as a human person on earth, the perfect and indivisible God-sovereignty that as the Son of God in heaven comes naturally to Him and is otherwise unchallenged and untested in that environment.  

            The enormous range and breadth of character for God to “stoop to conquer” sin displayed in the super-humility of Jesus Christ suffering through the demeaning rejection of Roman crucifixion in Jerusalem…on our behalf…displays the diametric opposite quality of being “petty” according to Richard Dawkins, on a scale of mistaken judgment that is so off-base and misguided as to be beyond adequate description

            The disrespect of the current group of New Atheists towards the life and ministry of Jesus Christ…shows a shallow quality of lazy scholarship…an unwillingness to even attempt to dig deeper, to think through and understand the opposing viewpoint.

            If human sin…imperfection of character…cannot be pushed aside as being the mere product of the partially incomplete development of Darwinian evolution, but instead is so important as to require the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God as a human person, this raises the incarnation, life, and ministry of Jesus up into the seriousness of a life-and-death issue…now and for all-time.

            This then requires the most earnestly sober consideration and analysis, worthy of a dignified and proper investigation.

            Some people have called the life of Jesus “the greatest story ever told”…but the worldviews of philosophical materialists like Richard Dawkins relegate human sin…imperfect character…to merely be the work-in-progress actions of matter and energy, according to the tenets of Darwinian evolution…no other viewpoint being open to atheism.

            This worldview enables philosophical materialists to devalue sin as being natural and unimportant, and thereby devalue the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ again as being “petty.”

            Self-righteousness is one of the few character traits within the broad array of moral concepts…that is unsolvable…that is unfixable…because it pushes-out the ability to recognize our shortcomings that produces regret, that in turn can produce genuine and actionable humility.

Without humility we cannot exercise empathy towards other people (Mt. 9:10-13; Lk. 16:15; Jn. 5:44).

            At the cross on Calvary Hill…God introduces Himself to us at the most intimate level…telling us something deeply personal not only about Himself, but also about the way to discovering genuine truth.

            The Intelligent Designer of the grandeur of the physical universe is telling us that He is up to the character challenge of playing the role of the lowest level of selfless humility, when it is in the service and cause of goodness, truth, and self-sacrificing love…a character trait I judge as being the least petty thing imaginable.

            Regarding self-righteousness…why was Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God (Jn. 1:1-3) in the New Testament gospels, continually butting heads with the biblical interpretations, rituals, practices, and attitudes of the Pharisees and scribes (Mt. 5:20, 22, 28, 34, 39, 44, 6:5, 16, 7:29, 9:11, 11:16-19, 12:1-8, 9-13, 14, 24, 38, 15:2, 16:12, 17:22-23, 19:3; Lk. 11:42-44, 52, 12:1; Jn. 7:19, 24, 8:19, 39-40)…while as the Creator of everyone and everything (Jn. 1:3) He freely interacted with them in open dialogue throughout His ministry and outreach to the world?

            The Pharisees and scribes crafted their own revised version of the faith of Abraham and the law of Moses, putting in place their own system of rituals and practices, briefly listed above, that were achievable through the alternative program of the self-effort of self-realization rather than faith…a form of self-salvation through the performance of good-works, and thus placing themselves in direct conflict with Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God and the chief architect of the very Judaic religion they professed to follow. 

            In a genuine biblical-quality journey of faith…starting with the detailed life-script of Abraham…God displaces our ways with His higher ways, in the process automatically removing any pretense on our part to gloat over self-achievement…in the process removing any portion of the God-composed life-script storyline to degenerate into the negative pride of self-righteousness.

            By contrast…in a journey of selfbased upon the performance of good-works, we actually displace God’s ways with our ways, opening wide the gate to invite-in the erroneous, worldly standard for self-evaluation that with some limited measure of “success” easily morphs into pride-filled self-righteousness…of “look at me how good I am.”

            The performance of the many religious rituals and practices the Pharisees and scribes manufactured to afford them a false standard by which to judge themselves…which fell far outside the bounds of the faith of Abraham or the law of Moses…translates today into the secular variation of similarly displacing God’s ways with our ways, this time using the seemingly more sophisticated, human-manufactured worldview of naturalistic materialism that is primarily based upon Darwinian evolution…in place of the good-works program of the Pharisees and scribes. 

            When self-righteousness pushes-out our capacity to recognize that we are all sinners in universal standing before God…are imperfect beings needing the turn-about of regret and repentance in order to purchase the humility that will accept a reconnection back to God, and a heart-felt desire to allow God to introduce Himself to us through the personal relationship of a life-journey of faith, this debilitating character trait of self-righteousness becomes the hallmark…the epitome…of using self-invented worldview programs as the excuse for unbelief, of going our own way apart from God.

            Both Pharisee-ism in the first-century…and Darwinism today…share the same character trait of self-righteousness, inserting their own worldview system, either through the self-salvation performance of good-works, or by the elimination of sin chalked-up to the progressive development of incomplete Darwinian evolution.

            What is sad from the viewpoint of Spirit-born Christians is that the Pharisees and scribes in the first-century, and people like the New Atheists today…were then and are presently now living within a false sense of security.

            False worldviews generate a false sense of security, and God cares enough about us to introduce Himself in person to mankind, and to separate and divide out for us the right way to go in life (Jn. 1:1-14, 11:25, 14:6).

            Staying with this essay a little bit longer…because the issues are so important…the question can be asked: Why didn’t Jesus choose a few of the religious elites in Jerusalem to be among His apostles and disciples, during His ministry?

            The simple answer is that the character trait of self-righteousness is unsolvable, is unfixable, because it takes-up the space exactly where repentance occurs…pushing-out the ability to have an about-face, turn-around change of mind and heart regarding accepting Jesus Christ.

            The Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem come out to the Jordan River to see what John the Baptist is doing.

            John sees right through them, saying in Matthew 3:7-10:

7 O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits befitting for repentance.

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

            Some of these same hard-core men were still in the Sanhedrin Council decades later when Paul stands before them on his last visit to Jerusalem…men Paul knew well when he was a Pharisee (Acts 22:30; 23:6, 26:5).

            It took no less than a blinding light from heaven to convert Paul (Acts 9:3)…a special calling and a unique variation of the Great Commission coming from Jesus Christ Himself.

            If Paul, a highly educated Pharisee, was going to have the required empathy to take the Christian gospel message to the pagan, polytheistic, and idol-worshipping Greco-Roman world…he was going to need a large dose of humility obtained through the discovery that he was completely wrong about the status of Jesus of Nazareth…thereby displacing the self-righteousness he shared with his colleagues in the Sanhedrin Council, up until that fateful moment on the road to Damascus.

            John the Baptist imprisoned by Herod, has some difficulty with the adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the established leaders in Jerusalem, justifiably assuming that Jesus by then would be in the process of literally fulfilling Isaiah 9:6-7 in this First Advent.

            Mary the mother of Jesus appears to have profound confusion over this same adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the religious leaders…men she would normally admire and respect…regarding the divine status of her son Jesus, which she is acutely and intimately aware of better than anyone, other than Jesus Himself.

            When Jesus begins to tell His disciples about His upcoming arrest, mistreatment, death, and resurrection (Mt. 16:21-22)…Peter emphatically objects, saying: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee”…unable to accept the inevitable negative outcome that would occur when radically pride-filled self-righteousness collides with the low worldly status of being considered petty…in the case of Jesus brilliantly camouflaging His true identity.

            In the account of the Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:1-11)…the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 is fulfilled: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon the foal of an ass.” (Italics and bold mine).

            Jesus moderates the impact of everything He does…because He must maintain a perfectly fine-tuned balance so as to remain within the low worldly status of being able to be rejected and crucified (Ps 22; Isa. 53).

            The life-script of Jesus Christ walks this line perfectly, and is a compelling evidence for it being real.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ aims at the very thing that offends Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists…the divine capacity to be able to “stoop to conquer” sin being beneath the dignity of a supposed creator god of the universe, but therein introducing to us a personal character trait of God that is amazing to contemplate…yet is incomprehensible and inaccessible to Darwinists.

            To get a perfect person Jesus Christ all the way to the cross of Calvary, at this one point in time in human history to qualify as the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin, requires a rare mixture of the easily offended self-righteousness in His critics, and the low worldly status of His outward appearance of being petty (Isa. 53:1-6)…both positioned at the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum graph-line of humility and not moderated toward a compromised and more reasonable center.

            The scenario presented here is light-years beyond any Darwinian program to produce human beings as mere hunters and gatherers…and far beyond the literary imagination of human fictional mythology.

            The life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ inspire the most earnestly sober consideration…and the most dignified and proper analysis…because His story cannot be anything other than genuinely real.

A God-Composed Journey of Faith Transcends above the American Dream 2

The narrative stories of faith…as recorded in the Bible…are so different from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that they invent an entirely new frame-of-reference for human life.

This frame-of-reference has as its goal the establishment of a personal relationship…between people and God…set-up through the creative mind of God…and on His terms…that must be the new reality if our life-stories are to be elevated up and out of worldly conventional, popular normalcy and thinking (Jn. 8:36).

The biblical narrative stories of faith are not for or against the aspirations of ancient and contemporary versions of the American Dream. 

The biblical narrative stories of faith simply transcend above these universally popular goals, dreams, and aspirations in a way that makes them curiously inapplicable, unimportant, and no longer the chief desire of our hearts and minds.

The life events and circumstances…the goals…and the end-point outcomes in the storylines of the biblical people of faith…have nothing to do with making a success of ourselves in terms of worldly conventional standards…according to the American Dream as translated backwards into every century of time and every cultural setting from the ancient books of Genesis through Acts…in the Bible.

In the Bible…the people who become caught-up in a God-composed adventure of faith life-script mission…discover along the way that their personal relationship with the living God becomes more important and more valuable than anything else in life…even the attractiveness of the American Dream of material wealth, the culturally acceptable validation of ourselves, and achieving through our own efforts a sense of personal security.

The acceptance and validation coming from God…in valuing us enough to call us by His Spirit into a unique and individual life-plan…of having faith in us to the point of calling us individually into a specific mission that only we can perform…with His assistance and partnership…is entirely different from the self-satisfaction of achieving the goals, dreams, and aspirations of the American Dream according to the Frank Sinatra song “I did it my way”…of self-autonomous individualism…that is typically found within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Phil. 3:4-10).

The parable of the nobleman away on business…and the instruction of Luke 19:13 to “occupy till I come”…is the commendable, baseline guide for all Christians to be about our Father’s business in whatever capacity we may be assigned in the caretaking of the estate…in this parable…of trimming the walkway shrubs, sweeping the exterior walkways, picking the fruits and vegetables from the orchard, caring for the livestock, preparing the meals for the staff, and the general interior and exterior cleaning and up-keep maintenance of the estate buildings and grounds.

Realizing the American Dream…can be achieved entirely through self-effort…through the application and exploitation of our natural, innate abilities…through autonomous individualism.

Experiencing a biblical-quality journey of faith…by intentional design…requires the direct participation of the living God…within a personal relationship.

These two realities for life are not the same…although they can and do overlap…along the way in a journey of faith…in some areas and in some cases.

What this means…in a practical applied sense…for Christians today is that God can guide and channel life-events and circumstances …inserting unique and individualized life-scripts into the lives of plumbing contractors, stay-at-home moms, auto mechanics, high school teachers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, professional athletes, journalists, small town mayors, church pastors, Christian foreign missionaries, Bible college professors, and Christian book writers…after the pattern of the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.

For some people…their individual gifts and talents are either outwardly apparent…or internally revealed to them.

Some people know early in childhood that they want to become a medical nurse, or that they possess the athletic ability to play professional sports, or that they have the gift of exceptional intelligence to be able to earn a PhD in mathematics.

For these people…the addition and inclusion of an actively interested and participating God into the mix…enhances the life experience of pursuing their goals with their very best effort…giving it their all…because these unique gifts and talents derive from their Creator God in the first place.

A personal relationship with God can actualize…can come to life…can translate into any conceivable career path, geographical location, personal circumstances, political environment, and economic situation…having enumerable choices and pathways leading to the optimum successful life…at the pinnacle and peak of our intended destiny.

Jesus famously said that He came to earth…that we might have more abundant life (Jn. 10:10).

This more abundant life is based upon the strength of the foundation of a fulfilling relational walk-of-faith with Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit…and not on the satisfaction of the self-works of achieving the American Dream on our own…apart from God…and outside of a brilliantly unique, divine calling for our lives (Mk. 8:36).

God created within us this strong drive to succeed.

This actualizes into the optimum life when it is lived within a joint-venture walk of faith…with Jesus Christ…occupying His correct relational position as King and Ruler in our lives…utilizing His qualities of timeless foresight and divinely unselfish love…perfect in His elevated estimation of our value and worth…demonstrated in His self-sacrifice on the cross at Calvary for our sakes.

This is a key element of the real Christian life…as articulated for us throughout the biblical narrative stories of faith (Rom. 15:4).

A God-Composed Journey of Faith Transcends above the American Dream 1

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”                                                                                               (2 Tim. 2:4)       

The American Dream…in modern terms might be defined by many people to include things like going to the finest college, earning an advanced degree, getting a high-paying job we enjoy working at, having a happy marriage, successfully raising a family, buying a large mansion in a great location, driving a Bentley or Aston Martin convertible automobile, having good friends, enjoying hobbies, playing sports, having good health and a long life, sending our children to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, or other prestigious colleges, having a healthy stock portfolio, taking European vacations, enjoying our grandchildren, and having a secure retirement.

What could outwardly appear…on the surface…to be more popularly sensible…more conventionally appealing as goals, dreams, and aspirations in life to aim for…than the list of things described above?

Yet the narrative stories of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are entirely different…in terms of goals, dreams, and aspirations…from any imaginable ancient version of the American Dream…translated back to a previous period in time.

This observation…however offensive and bewildering to the humanistic philosophy of some people…should at the very least stand-out as a waving red-flag to us within the modern marketplace of ideas…but we miss it…in part because most people concentrate on the worldly essentials of keeping our jobs, paying the bills, fulfilling our personal duties and obligations, and carving-out any remaining space for personal time…to have any space leftover to seriously contemplate entering by faith into a God-composed journey of faith…a personalized calling…written just for us (Mt. 6:33).

This is one of the unique facts about the Bible that argues for its divine origin…because this transcendence above popular conventional thinking…would never originate from popular conventional thinking.

This observation…counter-intuitively…is one of the most positive features of the biblical gospel message of God’s very real and rational offer to us of an alternative choice…into an elevated, purposeful life on a higher moral, ethical, and spiritual plane.

To become a willing enlistee of God into a divinely-composed journey of faith life-script…full of risk and adventure…actualizes into having the most profound meaning, purpose, and fulfillment imaginable for human beings.

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6)…not only because He is the Savior, Redeemer, and Light of the world…but also and of equal importance…Jesus Christ is the only person in all of existence who can compose divinely-crafted  journey of faith life-scripts for every believer in the Old Testament…in the New Testament…and for Christians today…that are an attractive, alternative option that transcends above popular conventionality…yet may encompass…along the way…some of the goals and outcomes of the otherwise commendable American Dream listed above.

One of the key biblical concepts that is still partially missing today in contemporary orthodox Christianity…that has not yet been fully recovered following the Protestant Reformation…is that the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…have little or nothing at all to do with the American Dream…modern or ancient…as the primary thing to aim for in life.

The genuine reality of human life…the validation of our creation and existence…is not found within the autonomous individualism of a pursuit of the American Dream.

The true purpose of human life is found on the higher plane of God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts in pursuit of our created destinies.

The calling of Abraham…the “father of faith” as long ago in history as 2,200 B.C., recorded as beginning in the 12th chapter of Genesis…the first book in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament…as well as the callings of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David…all the way through the Bible to the calling and ministry of the apostle Paul…are not anything like the America Dream as outlined above.

On the surface, this is a compelling evidence for the divine origin of these unconventional life-scripts.

As Abraham walks from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…with each step he takes God is displacing whatever conventionally normal life Abraham might have lived in Haran…with a completely different, elevated life based not upon the American Dream…but upon an entirely unique walk of faith…that opens up the context in which to get to know the real living God on a personal basis.

Instead of becoming the city mayor of Haran, or becoming its international trade ambassador, or serving on the school board, or coaching an ancient version of a youth soccer team…and thereby exiting quietly from history as an unexceptional person living an unexceptional life…Abraham’s calling and life-mission as brilliantly composed by God…was to become the singular “father of faith” example of an elevated life.

This is the through-line theme of every biblical story of faith…repeated in unique variations-on-a-common-theme for the beneficial impact of successive generations…as the divinely created new normal for all relationships between people and the living God…starting with Abraham’s walk of faith…to our present day.

The Real Christian Life 2

This is precisely why God invented time in conjunction with the atomic particles, energy, and the laws of science at the Big Bang…so that we could experience the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over time…so that we can learn the “hard way”…so that we can experientially learn by our mistakes and failures.

In this uniquely biblical reality, we maintain our free-will choice, but the program of salvation and the journey of faith life-scripts are entirely of God…as logically they must be…if godliness is to come into our lives.

Ephesians 2:8-9 reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

That not of yourselves…not of works…because human good-works cannot get us from one end of the spectrum-line…self-sovereignty…all the way over to the other end of the spectrum…God-sovereignty…that is the essential core feature of the real Christian life.

A functionally effective program for salvation that includes a God-composed journey of faith life-script…like that of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul…to name only a few…must have these components of eternal security, free-will choice, the universal atonement of Christ (in the Old Testament looking forward in time to the coming of the Messiah), the innate capacity of people to be able to exercise faith or to reject God, and the all-important grace of God…to not only forgive our sins through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross…but to make allowances for our flawed performance within our individually scripted journeys of faith…thus removing out-of-the-picture entirely the concept of self-works earning our way to salvation.

Everyone can visualize a young father kneeling on the living room carpet…a few feet away from a chair upon which is standing their two-year old son or daughter…saying unto them: “jump into my arms, and I will catch you.”

After the son or daughter jumps the short distance and is caught into the outstretched arms of their father…laughing and gleefully shouting “do it again, Dad, do it again!”…not only has a fun new game been invented but a bond of trust has been strengthened between father and son or daughter…that Dad will catch me each time in this game when he says “jump” from the chair into his arms.

One important point here is that it is the father who invents this game.  The two-year old does not say: “Dad…I am going to stand at the front edge of this chair and jump…and you are going to catch me.”  All of the logistics and outcomes of this new game…of having fun but also building a relationship of trust…are premeditated within the creative mind of the loving father.

I cannot speak for Abraham as he journeys from Haran to Canaan…or Joseph as he works through his unofficial MBA training in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison…or Moses as he walks with his brother Aaron toward Egypt to deliver the Israelites…or David when he approaches Goliath with his sling and stone…or Peter at his personal interview with Jesus on resurrection day…or Paul after he discovers on the road to Damascus that Jesus is the Messiah.

Anyone who has heard the voice of God in the Spirit in their calling…in some way or another senses an authority, a confidence, an assurance of certainty that God is someone I can trust and follow…even more importantly someone I can love…unlike anything else in all of human experience…as we should expect.

This is what see observe in the biblical narrative stories of faith…and it does not make for anything like accurate, human literary fiction.

Good human literary fiction is based upon conventional human experience.

But God inserting life-scripts having His higher ways and thoughts…displacing our ways in the process…is so unconventional it cannot be found anywhere in human literary fiction or anywhere in human experience…outside of the Bible.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are too complex, too sophisticated, too functionally integrated, and too creatively outside of the boundaries of normally conventional thinking to be the product of human literary imagination.

If following God was very similar to everyday normal life…then the God-track would not only be suspect as being a human invention…but it would offer very little benefit in terms of genuine separation, change, and hope for a new, transformed better life…compared to the self-sovereignty track of going our own way.

The more inexplicably implausible the creative origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith might be…by way of humanistic literary invention…in other words the larger the obvious gap between going our own way versus picking up our cross to follow Jesus Christ is…then the more information content, reformation impact, and change-agent value there is in a God-composed journey of faith life-script…designed not only to lead and guide us into all truth (Jn. 16:13) but also to establish a context wherein we can get to know God within a personal relationship…something that is entirely supernatural (Jn. 10:27-28, 11:25-26, 14:8-9).

The concept of split-second, instantaneous revelations and pronouncements by God…spanning the duration of a micro-second within the timeless environment of God (Isa. 46:9-10)…cannot by definition actualize into the first-hand experiences of the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over the time intervals of “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…within our dimension of time.

My mother used to say at breakfast on a cold winter morning before we headed off to school that “oatmeal will stick to your ribs.”

This is why God invented time.

This is why God invented journeys of faith life-scripts as the optimum vehicle for the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…for every believer (Jer. 31:31-34).

The lessons learned first-hand through a journey of faith spread-out over time…will stick to our ribs for all eternity.

This is why a timeless God gives us the assurance of the eternal security of our salvation…before we enter into the risk of an adventure of faith (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14).

This is why a timeless God has already factored-in our mistakes and shortcomings into our adventure of faith…covered by God’s grace…not just at our initial acceptance of Christ and becoming spiritually born-again (Jn. 3:3-5)…but throughout our journey of faith…come what may (Eph. 2:8-10).

The Real Christian Life 1

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”                                    (1 Pet. 3:15)

This book is a series of short-length, stand-alone essays that start with the main theme that the biblical narrative stories of faith could not possibly be the product of human literary invention…but instead have a divine origin, composition, and intentional targeted purpose of the highest importance imaginable.

If this is true…and I think this can be convincingly shown to be true using commonsense logical reasoning…then the implications are enormous.

If God is the scriptwriter behind the detailed, biblical narrative stories of faith…from Abraham in the book of Genesis to Paul in the book of Acts…this gives us God’s perspective of what He thinks today is The Real Christian Life…what is productive, genuine discipleship.

How we best live our Christian lives…is powerfully connected to this one question of whether or not the biblical narrative stories of faith could be merely human literary invention…or instead could only come from the mind and heart of a God possessing divinely timeless foresight, brilliantly creative imagination, and a gift for proactive preplanning at the highest level of coordinated multi-tasking.

But before moving on to make commonsense arguments in more detail for the existence of God, the divine origin of the Bible, and how the biblical narrative stories of faith relate to the real Christian life today…in this Introduction I should disclose my theological biases and presuppositions…that have a direct bearing on the logical consistency and strength of my arguments.

I believe that born-again Christians have the full assurance of the eternal security of their salvation (1 Jn. 5:13; Phil. 1:6; Jn. 10:28-29)…through their free-will choice (Mk. 8:34-38; Jn. 4:14; Rev. 22:17) to accept Christ through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). 

This certainty is based upon their knowing (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 1:18) that they have accepted Jesus Christ by faith.

I believe that faith precedes salvation (Rom. 5:1; Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:13)…that upon hearing the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-4)…if we believe and accept Christ…then we are saved…and can never lose our salvation (Jn. 3:16).

I believe that the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is the perfect atonement for the sins of mankind (Col. 2:10)…and that this atonement is offered freely to every person for them to either choose to accept or to reject (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9; Jn. 1:11).

I believe that the concepts of predestination, election, divinely timeless foreknowledge, free-will choice, the capacity to believe, and the universal outreach of salvation…are all derived directly from scripture…and are brilliantly interwoven, adjudicated, balanced, and resolved…interpreted by God Himself…within the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God is the only person who could blend seemingly contradictory concepts together within the events and circumstances of the numerous biblical life-scripts of journeys of faith…bringing together the unmixable ingredients of God’s will, our free-will choice, God’s timeless foresight, and the intentionally designed benefits of our four dimensions of space and time…slowing events and circumstances down into short-term and long-term experiential lessons that lead the people of faith in the Bible…and modern Christians today…into the “all-truth” of John 16:13.

As I will argue many times in essays throughout this book, this is a compelling apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible…because the novel and innovative quality of the biblical narrative stories of faith is too worldly unconventional to have originated from a humanistic worldview perspective.

This biblical interpretation has a direct and critical bearing upon the actualizing within our lives of the type and quality of a journey of faith described in the Bible…from Abraham through Paul…due to the high risk-level involved…if our salvation was not secure.

As a practical matter…no one in their right-mind would take the high risk to venture out into a journey of faith following a God-composed life-script…in which we cannot…by divine intention (2 Cor. 5:7)…see around the next bend in the upcoming corner or over the top of the next hill…as to how steep, perilous, or narrow the way may become…if by following this life-script our eternal salvation was placed in jeopardy.

God knows that no one would…or should…accept the risk of a biblical-style walk of faith…if our salvation was in the slightest way dependent upon our often flawed human performance over the course of our lives…if our salvation was dependent upon faith plus some additional measure of our good-works.

No ancient or modern Christian would step into their risk-filled, God-composed life-script…crafted after the biblical pattern of an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, or Paul…without the upfront assurance of the eternal security of their salvation.

This doctrinal issue bears directly upon the real Christian life…because clearly the biblical narrative stories of faith from Noah through Paul entail their assuming the highest imaginable risks upon first entering into their God-composed callings.

This all-important issue also illuminates a commonsense apologetic argument for the divine origin of the Bible…simply…that a God-composed journey of faith life-script is so foreign to worldly conventional thinking…and therefore by nature highly risk-filled in its reliance upon the good faith and character of God…that God is wisely offering us a safe-conduct upfront…through the blood of Jesus Christ…securing our eternal salvation…before we willingly agree to accompany Him out into the newness and novelty of a walk of biblical faith.